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Saudi troops enter Bahrain, Gadhafi claims back cities (updates from G-forces radio)

BAHRAIN

19nth of March

[4]Bahrain Arrests Opposition Leaders, Clears Protest Encampment

The Bahraini government is intensifying a crackdown on Shiite-led anti-government protests. On Thursday, at least six opposition leaders were arrested as state forces attacked protesters in a central square in the capital city of Manama. At least six people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded in the assault. Bulldozers were then used to clear out encampments used by protesters. State forces have also been deployed to surround Shiite neighborhoods. Opposition leaders are calling for a U.N. probe into the crackdown and for the withdra wal of all foreign forces deployed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to back the Bahrain government. The United States has refused to condemn the Bahraini government’s assault on protesters.

18nth of March

[5]At least 25 people were killed and hundreds injured when police opened fire Friday at hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in the Yemeni capital Sana’a. Doctors claims that as many as 42 demonstrators were killed by government forces. Security men in civilian clothes on the rooftops of surrounding houses opened live fire on protesters, apparently shooting to kill by aiming at the head and chest, an eyewitness told the German Press Agency DPA. An injured anti-government protester reacts as he is being helped by fellow protesters in Sanaa, March 18, 2011.

They also used tear gas and water cannons hoping to disperse the protesters who were demonstrating to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, he added. Security men in civilian clothes also attacked protesters camping in the northern province of Dhamar and set ablaze a number of tents. Dozens were injured in the attack.

16nth of March

[1] The Bahraini opposition has denounced as a foreign occupation the arrival of over a thousand of Saudi soldiers to help protect government facilities. The troops arrived amid escalating protests against the regime of the Al Khalifa royal family.

Bahrain television on Monday showed images of troops in armored cars entering the country via the 26km causeway that connects the kingdom to Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates has also sent about 500 police to Bahrain, according to Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the Emirati foreign minister.

The troops arrived less than 24 hours after Bahraini police clashed with demonstrators in one of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month. On Sunday, following Friday’s statement that called for a campaign of civil disobedience, the protesters set up roadblocks across the highway in front of the Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH).

After some tussles with the police, tear gas was fired, the crowds dispersed, and tents outside the BFH dismantled by the police, who reportedly then followed protesters to Pearl roundabout and launched stun grenades and more tear gas, and used live ammunition from the flyover.

Clashes between riot police and protesters ensued, with clear evidence of excessive force used by police, including the point blank range shooting of tear gas at an unarmed protester. Crowds surge to the Pearl roundabout, outnumbering police, who were forced to withdraw.

Meanwhile at the same time, in the University of Bahrain – Bahrain’s public university, the largest in the country, a demonstration by protestors was attacked by government thugs using sticks and swords. Many of the protesters had to find refuge in the university mosque and classrooms for protection, while others formed a human chain around female students.

The opposition to the regime has stressed the threat that the people of Bahrain are confronting is of a war against Bahraini citizens – but without any official declaration of war. The opposition added that they consider the entry of any soldier or military equipment into the Kingdom of Bahrain’s air, sea or land territories as a blatant occupation, a conspiracy against the unarmed people of Bahrain, and a violation of international agreements and conventions.

The capital Manama was virtually paralyzed on Monday 14th of March by a general strike called by the unions to protest against the violent repression of demonstrators in recent days.

On Sunday, protesters were dispersed by police outside the financial district of Bahrain. The Kingdom is a regionally strategic archipelago which hosts the Fifth Fleet U.S. Robert Gates, the US Secretary of State for Defense, visited Bahrain only a day before the crackdown began.

In its statement, the opposition urged the international community to assume its responsibilities promptly and to protect the people of Bahrain against the threat of a military intervention. The opposition also demanded the need to take adequate measures to protect civilians and to convene the UN Security Council.

Saudi soldiers arrived in Bahrain as part of the joint force of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), called «Peninsula Shield», established in 1984. The GCC, where Saudi Arabia plays a leading role, gathers all Gulf Arab monarchies which includes Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. The Saudi official declared that any force deployed in a GCC member country «passes under the authority of the host country», suggesting that it is in Bahrain to decide whether or not to participate in policing.  Iran, meanwhile, has warned against foreign interferences.

The GCC has expressed its solidarity with the Bahraini authorities during the popular protests against the Al Khalifa regime. The GCC decided a few days ago on March 10 to create a development fund of 20 billion dollars to help Bahrain and Oman, another country beset by protests. Ten billion dollars will be given to each country to upgrade their housing and infrastructure over 10 years. The GCC has also promised to deal «firmly» with any threat to the safety of one of its members. Following the Saudi troops entry, hundreds of protesters gathered behind makeshift checkpoints around the Pearl Roundabout, the scene of much of the protest in Bahrain.

Bahrain and especially the capital Manama has been paralyzed by protests for weeks, with thousands of people, frustrated by unemployment and economic inequality, camped in the main roundabout since mid-February. The protesters have also staged a number of marches on symbolic targets – the prime minister’s office, the foreign ministry, and the state television building, among others.

The regime has continued its sectarian policy of hiring hundreds of former soldiers from Pakistan to serve in its National Guard – protesters have demanded an end to the government’s controversial practice of recruiting foreigners in to the security forces. A call for applicants titled “Urgent Requirement: Manpower for Bahrain National Guard” was recently placed on the website of a prominent Pakistani human resource firm that has close ties to the Pakistani military. The announcement said it was hiring several categories of ex-military personnel, including anti-riot instructors, Pakistan Military Academy drill instructors, retired infantry majors, and military police. The statement said that a delegation from the Bahrain National Guard would be visiting Pakistan for the purpose of selecting the Pakistani personnel from March 7 to March 14.

A similar advertisement was published in the Daily Jang, Pakistan’s most widely read newspaper, on the first of March, and before that on the 25th of February. Around 800 Pakistanis have already been hired in the past few weeks. Bahrain’s police, military and national guard are staffed in large part by non-Bahraini citizens, mostly from Pakistan, Yemen and Syria.

The intervention of Saudi forces must be understood as a response to the threat of popular protests inside its own borders. The eastern province city of Qatif in Saudi Arabia has already witnessed some protests, where three protesters were shot and wounded by police dispersing a demonstration late on Thursday 10th of March. The shooting happened when several hundred protesters, all from the Shia sect and including women, took to the streets of the city to demand the release of nine Shia prisoners. Another small demonstration calling for reforms and the release of Shia prisoners also took place the day after on Friday.

More than 200 protesters also rallied in the city of Hofuf, which is close to the eastern Ghawar oil field and major refinery installations. The city has seen scattered protests in the last two weeks by minority Shias, who complain of discrimination in the face of the country’s dominant Sunni majority. The city of Al-Hasa, which witnessed some unrest, also happens to be where most of Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves lie. The opposition in Saudi Arabia is nevertheless a cross sectarian one including Sunni and Shia calling for democratic and social reforms.

A Call from Saudi Intellectuals to the Political Leadership made on the February 28, 2011, titled the Declaration of National Reform, expressed their desire for a constitutional monarchy and equal citizenship. They write in their statement that the people’s consent is the basis for the legitimacy of authority, and the only guarantee for unity, stability, and the efficiency of public administration, as well as the protection of the country from foreign intervention.

They also call for the people to be a source of authority, and a full partner in deciding public policies through their elected representatives in the Shura (Consultative) Council, the purpose of the state is to serve society, secure its interests, improve its standard of living. They insist on the principle of the independence of judicial authority, legislation that forbids discrimination among citizens under any circumstances, the empowering of women to attain their rights to education, owning property, employment, and participation in public affairs without any discrimination and finally they call for more social justice and a just redistribution of the oil revenues among the population.

The Saudi regime sees the  success of the protesters as a solely sectarian issue because a democratic Bahrain, composed of 70% of Shias would tend to be closer to Shia Iran and would encourage Saudi Shia citizens to launch more protests in the Kingdom.

The situation and the protesters in Bahrain are far from sectarian discourse. Despite the fact that the Shi‘a in Bahrain have suffered the most from the regime’s intransigence, frustrations cut across sectarian lines. The slogans have continually been inclusive calling for unity between Shia and Sunni, as well as for social justice.

The opposition in Bahrain grew from frustration over promises made by the current king Hamad Al Khalifa. He promised sweeping liberal reforms that would, in essence, lead the country towards a constitutional monarchy.

Instead, the regime installed a sham bicameral parliamentary system, decreed a constitution that consolidated power in the hands of the elites and institutionalized discrimination against the island’s majority Shi‘i population. The king appoints a consultative council that can block the elected lower house’s legislation. Electoral districts are hopelessly gerrymandered to minimize Shi‘i representation. The Bahrain opposition has since then organized in political societies, as actual parties are illegal, to pressure the regime to change its policy.

The opposition in Bahrain has since then been divided in its behavior towards the regime. Part of the opposition ran for Parliament and vowed to change the system from within. By all accounts, the opposition deputies agitated repeatedly for structural changes, but their incorporation into the system rendered them wholly ineffective. This is the position of the two societies, al-Wifaq and the left-leaning Wa‘ad, which are not calling for an overthrow of the regime but for constitutional reforms.

Secondly there’s the Haqq Movement for Liberty and Democracy, led by charismatic figures like Hasan Mushayma‘, ‘Isa al-Jawdar and ‘Abd al-Jalil Singace, and a network of young, energetic and devoted human rights activists at the heart of it the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, headed by ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab. They both rejected participation in elections and called for increased grassroots organizing, up to and including civil disobedience, and reached out to Western governments. They were able to recruit a considerable amount of supporters from al-Wifaq and Wa‘ad, and they eventually boasted a significant following in both the Shi‘i and Sunni communities.

Haqq and the human rights activists also assumed a decidedly more defiant stance against the regime and its excesses than the established opposition. They organized a few peaceful demonstrations in 2005-2006, before both groups suffered repression. Nevertheless since the beginning of the movement of protest on the 14th of February, called by youth movements and grassroots organizations, Wifaq and Wa’ad  – initially reluctant to support the call for demonstrations, changed course, as the regime’s violence made them feel compelled to join forces with the protesters.

Now the protesters are speaking once more in an united and strong voice to oppose Saudi military intervention in Bahrain. The entry of the Saudi troops has actually reinforced and strengthened the movement of protest against the Bahraini regime.

The USA had until a few days ago completely ignored the regime’s violent repression of opposition members and protesters.  On December 3, 2010 Hillary Clinton stated that she was impressed by the Bahrain government’s commitment to following a democratic path. The USA administration is now trapped in its own rhetoric, urging the Al Khalifa to pursue “meaningful reform” and rebuking the regime for its violence, but stopping well short of the condemnatory language it employed to denounce similar repression in nearby Iran or Libya. The US diffidence is likely informed by the judgment of a top intelligence official, that the royal family can and will restore order in Bahrain. The USA has called for restraint, but has refrained from saying whether it supports the move to deploy troops.

In conclusion, we can observe again the selectivity of the International Community, led by the USA and the UK, so prompt to call for foreign intervention and a no fly zone in the case of Libya, but not in Bahrain which is now witnessing a direct intervention from a neighbour dictatorship to repress protesters and put an end to demonstrations. Are the Bahrain revolutionaries not worth as much as the Libyan revolutionaries?

Would the problem be that the Bahrain regime is a key ally of western imperialist governments? Could it be that the US Fifth Fleet anchored in Bahrain is too important for Western imperialist interests to dare raise the issue of Bahraini revolutionaries? Bahrian is located in the region where two thirds of the world’s proven oil reserves lie, and ensuring that the precious liquid flows to global consumers with minimal interruption is a primary US goal.

We should remind ourselves that it is these 5th Fleet aircraft carriers that launched the jets that patrolled the no-fly zone in southern Iraq in the 1990s and the bombers that struck Baghdad in advance of the 2003 invasion.

The voice of the International Community is suddenly silenced in view of such important political and economic interests. It is these interests that western imperialist countries want to defend with military intervention in Libya – and why they should be opposed.

LIBYA

[3]17nth of March update:

This info received from G-forces radio intercepts and some analysis from friendly countries.

Company with ten BM-21 rocket launchers called in for support on Ajdabiya assault. On the way north. One military unit headed North out of Ajdabiya towards Benghazi. Forces at Ajdabiya split into three units. North to Benghazi, south to Brega, and south east to Tobruk. 1200 special forces from one of Gaddafi’s sons’ brigades landed at Sirte. Positioned to defend Sirte. Sirte receiving 12 flights per day. Now major supply centre. Gaddafi has two options. Attack Benghazi within 48 hours or head to Tobruk to cut off Benghazi. Tobruk will take much longer but is the safe option for Gaddafi. If he is crazy he will attack Benghazi. Unlikely to attack tonight. Long trip from Ajdabiya. Troops will be tired and need supply to come forward.

Situation in East getting desperate for Benghazi! Information is recent. 1 hour old. 25km North of Ajdabiya is intersection leading to Az-Zuwaytinah. Tanks and infantry position there. Artillery support on the way there. Tank and infantry units stationed 20KM east of Ajdabiya. Holding same position as yesterday. Various smaller units spread out in 20KM radius around Ajdabiya. HEAVY concentration of troops located 45km South East of Ajdabiya. Gaddafi forces intend to use airfield 17km North East of Ajdabiya for resupply. Supply line to Gardabia Sirte too long. No planes landed yet. More info in 6 hours or so.

16nth of March

[2] Pro-Gaddafi Forces Close in on Rebels as No-Fly Zone Debate Persists

In Libya, forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi have captured the city of Zwara, west of Tripoli, and are battling under-equipped rebel fighters for control of the oil town of Brega. In recent days, Gaddafi forces have won back control of several key cities. Meanwhile, debate continues at the international level over whether the U.N. Security Council should institute a no-fly zone. On Monday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed deep concerns about the no-fly zone.

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_____________________________
[1] Counterfire: Saudi troops enter Bahrain to put down revolution
[2] Democracy Now: Latest Headlines
[3] Occupied London: Latest updates from G-forces radio intercepts
[4] Democracy Now: Latest headlines
[5] Act for Freedom now: At least 25 killed in Yemen crackdown on protests

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Saif Gaddafi’s london mansion occupied

[1] Last morning a group calling themselves Topple The Tyrants have occupied the £10m Hampsted Mansion of Saif Al Islam Gaddafi, in solidarity with the Libyan people and their struggle to overthrow the murderous Gaddafi regime.

A spokesman for the group said «We didn’t trust the British government to properly seize the Gaddafi regime’s corrupt assets, so we took matters into our own hands.»

The British government only recently stopped actively helping to train the Libyan regime in «crowd control» techniques, through the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and a midlands based arms manufacturer, NMS Systems. As well as training the regime in repression, British corporations are also guilty of providing the same weapons that are now being used by Gaddaffi against the Libyan people.

The mansion is managed by Gaddaffi through a holding company registered in the British Virgin Islands. The spokesman for occupiers said «Gaddafi, Mubarak, the House of Saud and numerous other tyrants use front companies in British protectorates to avoid paying tax and above all to protect their anonymity. Britain actively assists tyrants, corporations and the super rich to rob their people blind. Our aim is to make sure that the assets stolen by Gaddafi are returned to the Libyan people and don’t disappear into the pockets of governments or corporations. In the meantime we want to welcome refugees from the conflict in Libya and those fleeing tyranny and oppression across the world.

We stand in solidarity with the Libyan people.

[2] Meanwhile in Libya:

Pro- and anti-government forces are locked in intense fighting for control of several cities and towns across Libya, where a near month-long uprising is threatening to end Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s more than 41-year-old rule. Some of the fiercest fighting is taking place in the strategic oil city of Az-Zawiyah, 50km west of the capital Tripoli.

«The revolutionaries control the centre of Zawiyah and Gadhafi’s forces are surrounding it. It’s 50-50,» a resident who fled the city said. «There was no one in the streets, the town is completely deserted, and there are snipers on the roofs,» he said, adding that he did not know which side they were on.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi say they have wrested the city from the hands of rebels, a claim denied by those ranged against the Libyan leader. Any independent confirmation of the claims and counter-claims, however, is difficult since journalists are unable to reach the city. […]

More witnesses…

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[1] Indymedia London, Saif Gaddafi’s london mansion occupied
[1] Al Jazeera, Battles rage over Libyan cities

Fighting Continues in Libya and Egypt, 4 dead in Yemen

[1]Four Protesters Die in Yemen

Protests are occurring across the Middle East following Friday prayers. In Yemen, soldiers killed at least four protesters and wounded seven others during demonstrations in the northern province of Amran.

[1]LIBYA:

Fighting Continues in Libya; Checkpoints Expand in Tripoli

In Libya, fighting between Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s forces and rebels has broken out in the eastern oil export port of Ras Lanuf and the town of Zawiyah, west of Tripoli. Mass protests against Gaddafi’s rule were scheduled to begin after noon prayers across the country, but in Tripoli, Gaddafi supporters have set up checkpoints throughout the city to prevent protesters from moving about. Foreign journalists were ordered not to leave their hotels, and internet service has reportedly been cut off in Tripoli and Benghazi. But some protesters in Tripoli have defied the crackdown. Some 1,000 protesters reportedly streamed out of the Murad Agha mosque in the Tajura district of Tripoli, chanting, «The people want to bring the regime down.»

Obama Orders U.S. Military to be Prepared to Act in Libya

Speaking in Washington, D.C., President Obama has publicly said for the first time that Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi must leave office. During a news conference Thursday, Obama said he has ordered the U.S. military to be prepared to take action in Libya if needed. […]

The United Nations is reporting the number of people trying to flee Libya has fallen as heavily armed government forces intensified their presence on the Tunisian border and on roads leading up to it. Roughly 15,000 people had been crossing the border every day, but on Thursday that number plunged to 2,000.

Thousands of Iraqis Protest in «Day of Regret»

In Iraq, thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets to demand economic progress and an end to corruption. Protests are reported in Baghdad, Basra, Nineveh, Anbar and Salaheddin. In an attempt to limit the size of the protests, the Iraqi government has banned the movement of vehicles in Baghdad and other major cities, forcing protesters to walk to the demonstrations. Today has been described as the «Day of Regret,» to mark one year since the Iraqi parliamentary elections.

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[2]The Qadaffi regime is prepared to fight to the last drop of blood to crush the revolution. This isn’t new. He and his Free Officer allies have always hammered opposition with ruthless efficiency–the public execution has been a centerpiece of the regime’s repertoire since serious challenges first emerged in the 1980s. What is new is the level of escalation demanded of the dictatorship. When they couldn’t rely on the police and army to crush the protesters, they turned to mercenaries to butcher them in their hundreds. The massacres have continued, just enough to keep the regime entrenched in the capital, even as large swathes of Libya are declared liberated. To deal with those liberated and nearly-liberated populations, the regime ordered the army to carry out air strikes.

The divisions in the state have been sufficient to send soldiers and police to the protesters’ side, and a number of soldiers who refused to carry out air strikes have taken their planes to Malta and sought refuge. The army has abandoned the border, leaving it to the control of People’s Committees.

Benghazi, where the regime had been totally defeated and sent packing, was set to be the target of vengeful air strikes on February 21–except that two of the planes ordered to attack reportedly landed in the city, the pilots refusing to drop their payload. The city has been declared safe for now. Even at the Libyan embassy in London, staff joined anti-Qadaffi protests.

The surreal atmosphere in the presidential palace is communicated in dispatches from defecting officers. «I am the one who created Libya,» Qadaffi reportedly said, «and I will be the one to destroy it.» On February 20, one of Qadaffi’s thuggish sons–an alumnus of the London School of Economics, as well as a close friend of Prince Andrew and Lord Mandelson–threatened civil war if people didn’t go home and stop protesting. They’ve cut off the Internet and the landlines–and banned foreign journalists–in order to be able to carry out massacres under the cover of secrecy. This is a catastrophic lashing out by a regime in mortal freefall. It is seeking, in effect, a blood tribute in compensation for its lost authority.

 

Even at his late hour, it would be foolish to underestimate Qadaffi’s ability to just hang on, to clench Libya in a rigor mortis grip. As crazed as he manifestly is, he has demonstrated considerable shrewdness in his time. For example, as soon as the Islamist opposition started to become a real threat to his regime in the late 1990s, he started to look for ways to be accepted by the U.S.-led caste of «good guys.» The collapse of the USSR as a supplier of military hardware, trade, and ideological and moral leadership for Third Worldist states would also have had something to do with this.

The transition was made easier after 2001, and completed in 2004, partially at the behest of Anglo-American oil. Qadaffi went so far in his attempts to win over his erstwhile opponents as to participate in anti-Islamist counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines with international support, lavish intelligence on U.S. agencies and even compensate the victims of Lockerbie for a crime that Libya had not committed. The Bush administration might still have resisted such serenading were it not for the eager rush of European capital into Tripoli. So, Bush and Blair turned it into a story of Qadaffi seeing the light and giving up his non-existent WMD programs, which charade Qadaffi duly participated in.

This whole sequence of events was bizarre and improbable, but it worked: the subsequent oil contracts, amid a global oil price spike produced by Bush’s wars, made him and his regime very wealthy. He was also able to hang opponents in public under the pretext of a fight against ‘radical Islamists’. Joining the camp of American client dictatorships enabled Qadaffi to survive until this moment. It has also ensured that the big guns are on his side now that he faces this potentially fatal challenge to his regime. Because the trouble for the U.S. and UK governments in this revolt is that they really, really don’t want Qadaffi to fall. Qadaffi is someone with whom they can do business.

By contrast, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, long a leading element in the resistance, is less likely to be so pliable. The U.S. and UK invested too much in Qadaffi to lose him now, not least the military hardware they’ve given him, the very weapons of repression which they knew full well would be used for the primary goal of keeping him in power. That is why the phrases on the lips of U.S. and European ambassadors and statespersons are so mealy-mouthed. Hillary Clinton’s berating of Libya’s government for «unacceptable» levels of violence has approximately the same passion and conviction as a school marm telling off a child for running with scissors.

These people–the caretakers, intellectuals, politicos and lackeys of empire–have spent more than two decades telling us that they were outraged by every drop of blood spilled by dictatorships, that they were if anything overly eager in their solicitations for democracy and human rights, messianic to a fault. This never had a moment’s plausibility, but it has never looked as vile and sinister as it does now, amid a genuinely heroic revolutionary democratic struggle.

EGYPT: [3] According to a government fact-finding committee tasked with investigating oppression during recent protests, the committee has heard testimony that police snipers shot protesters from tops of buildings in Tahrir Square.

The committee’s statement, announced on state TV Thursday, noted that personnel affiliated with the former regime injured, killed and intimidated protesters. Some of the police snipers stood on top of the Mugamma, Ramses Hilton hotel, American University of Cairo and Interior Ministry buildings and shot protesters. The committee clarified that when asked about authorization, two former senior policemen said snipers would not fire on protesters without permission from the government.

Around 120 eyewitnesses of the clashes in Cairo and Giza on 28 January said police shot protesters with live ammunition, killing some and injuring others. Some eyewitnesses added that Mubarak thugs, not protesters, had set the National Democratic Party  headquarters on fire.

The statement also reported the committee had viewed a video of two armored police vehicles–one mowing over protesters while the other reversed to hit others–during the investigation.

Below: Essam Sharaf addresses thousands of pro-democracy campaigners who have gathered in centre of Cairo after Friday prayers (from Al Jazeera)

Joel Beinin’s analysis of the contribution of workers to the anti-Mubarak uprising and the possible consequences for both the social movement generally and the Egyptian working class specifically.

“Egyptian Workers Join the Revolution,” proclaimed the headline of Al-Ahram, the government-owned daily, the day before ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. Tens of thousands of workers—in textiles, military production, transportation, petroleum, cement, iron and steel, hospitals, universities, telecommunications and the Suez Canal—participated in strikes or protests in the three days before Mubarak’s departure. Although it is too soon to render a definitive judgment, the demographic and economic weight of workers in the popular uprising was likely one of the factors that persuaded Egypt’s military chiefs to ask Mubarak to step aside.

From the start, workers participated in the demonstrations as individuals. It was only toward the end that they registered their presence as organized workers. This is partly because the Egyptian Trade Union Federation, the only legal union in Egypt, functions as an arm of the state. Unlike the General Union of Tunisian Workers, neither ETUF nor any of its affiliated unions joined the insurgent forces. As they have for more than a decade, Egyptian workers who sought to engage in collective action had to do so in the face of concerted opposition from the official union apparatus.

Much of the attention of the media and think-tank analysts has focused on the grievances of youth and their use of Facebook and other social media to mobilize the insurgent movement. The high unemployment rate of educated Egyptians under 30 and their facility with web technologies were undoubtedly major factors in launching the uprising. However, the events of January–February followed a decade of escalating mobilizations among many different sectors of Egyptian society—committees in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in opposition to the US invasion of Iraq; the Kifaya (Enough) movement for democracy; doctors, judges, professors; and, above all, industrial and white-collar workers.

Since 1998 well more than 2 million workers have participated in some 3,500 strikes, sit-ins and other forms of protest. There have been major strikes in nearly every sector of the Egyptian economy, including one in December 2006 and another in September 2007 at the mammoth Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahalla al-Kubra and a five-month struggle at the newly privatized Tanta Linen Company in 2009. The April 6 Youth Movement takes its name from a call for a general strike on that date in 2008; it did not occur because of severe repression.

Workers’ collective actions over the past decade have usually targeted bread-and-butter issues—the failure of owners of newly privatized enterprises to abide by the terms of the contracts in force before privatization, as the law requires; failure to pay long-overdue bonuses, incentives and other wage supplements; failure of public enterprises to pay workers their share of profits; fear of large-scale firings before or after privatization; and low wages. Many observers wondered if or when workers might raise “political” demands, failing to understand that in an autocracy, organizing large numbers of people outside state strictures is in itself a political act.

At the appropriate moment, workers did not hesitate to fuse economic and political demands. On February 9, Cairo transport workers went on strike and announced that they would be forming an independent union. According to Hossam el-Hamalawy, a well-informed blogger and labor journalist, their statement also called for abolishing the emergency law in force for decades, removing the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) from state institutions, dissolving Parliament (fraudulently elected in 2010), drafting a new Constitution, forming a national unity government, prosecuting corrupt officials and establishing a basic national minimum wage of 1,200 Egyptian pounds a month (about $215).

The call for a 1,200-pound minimum wage is the one nationwide demand that emerged out of the decade-long Egyptian workers’ movement. Last year the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, an NGO recently established to support the workers’ movement, took the issue to court. It won a partial victory when the government responded to the court’s order and raised the monthly minimum wage from 106 pounds (less than $20) to 400 pounds (about $73).

This would still leave a typical family of five with two breadwinners under or close to the poverty line of $2 a day, even with bonuses and other wage supplements. Although inadequate, this is one of many instances when workers won significant economic gains through striking and collective action. In the 2000s, unlike in the 1980s and ’90s, the government did not routinely repress workers’ protests by massive violence, including shooting strikers dead. The cumulative effect of the workers’ movement taught millions of Egyptians that it was possible to win something through struggle and that the regime, perhaps because it feared scaring away foreign capital, would likely respond with only limited repression.

The workers’ movement has been sustained in the face of fierce opposition from ETUF leaders, many of whom are also officials in the NDP. Egyptian law requires that all trade unions affiliate with the ETUF. Nonetheless, two independent unions were established in the course of the past decade’s labor struggles—real estate tax authority workers in 2008 and healthcare technicians in 2010. One of the less noted aspects of the popular uprising was a press release on January 30 in which these two independent unions and representatives of workers from a dozen factory towns declared their intention to form a new union federation independent of the ETUF. This was the first attempt to establish a new institution based on the popular upsurge—a revolutionary act, since, of course, it is illegal. By the day of Mubarak’s resignation there were banners in Tahrir Square proclaiming, The Independent Trade Union Federation Demands an End to the Regime.

The generals now ruling Egypt have banned meetings of trade unions and called for calm. Nonetheless, thousands of public sector workers, including ambulance drivers, airport and public transport workers and even police, took to the streets, demanding higher pay, three days after Mubarak’s resignation. Since their unions do not represent them adequately, and they are not a party to the negotiations with the generals over Egypt’s political future, this is the only vehicle workers have for asserting their demands. The army seems resolved to implement minimalist reforms and leave the essential character of the Mubarak regime unchanged. The extent to which workers and others remain mobilized and willing to take to the streets may determine the extent to which popular aspirations for democracy and social justice are realized.

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[1] Democracy now, Headlines for March 04, 2011
[2] Richard Seymour, The West’s fear of Qaddafi’s fall
[3] Gov’t report: police snipers shot Tahrir Square protesters
[4] [4] Libcom.org, Egypt’s workers rise up – Joel Beinin

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The Arab world on fire (updates)

LIBYA:

3nd of March

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2nd of March

[8] Al Jazeera News: The Libyan air force has bombed the oil refinery and port town of Marsa El Brega as battles between forces loyal and against Muammar Gaddafi raged in several towns across the North African country.

«We just watched an air force jet … fly over Brega and drop at least one bomb and huge plumes of smoke are now coming out ,» Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley said on Wednesday. The warplane from Gadhafi’s air force struck a beach near where the two sides were fighting at a university campus. A witness said the blast raised a plume of sand from a dune but caused no casualties, apparently an attempt to scare off the anti-Gadhafi fighters besieging regime forces in the campus.

«All the fighters here are massing. We understand that something like 250-300 pro-Gaddafi fighters are inside Brega and they are being surrounded,» our correspondent said.

The bombing of Brega and reports about the fall of Gharyan and Sabratha towns in the country’s northwest to pro-Gaddafi forces came as Gaddafi appeared on state television once again. Located between Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte — still under government control — and the opposition-held eastern port of Benghazi, Brega also sits near ethnic fault lines between tribes loyal to Gaddafi and eastern groups opposed to him.

«They tried to take Brega this morning, but they failed,» Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the February 17th Coalition, an anti-government group, told the Reuters news agency.

«It is back in the hands of the revolutionaries. He is trying to create all kinds of psychological warfare to keep these cities on edge.»

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city now controlled by rebels, described the situation in the Brega region as fluid. » I think it’s fair to say that here is a fair amount of fighting going on in that area,» she said.

Earlier the Associated Press news agency quoted Ahmed Jerksi, manager of the oil installation in Brega, as saying that pro-Gaddafi forces took control of the facility at dawn without using force. There were conflicting claims about the casualties from these battles.

Government forces were also reported to be battling to regain control of rebel-held towns close to Tripoli, trying to create a buffer zone around what is still Gaddafi’s seat of power. Our correspondent said an air raid carried out by forces loyal to Gaddafi reportedly targeted a weapons store about 6km outside the eastern town of Ajdabiya.

Witnesses told the Associated Press news agency that they saw two warplanes bomb the town’s eastern outskirts at 10am local time. They also said pro-Gaddafi forces were advancing on the town. «I see two jets bombing now,» one witness said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Another witness said rebel forces were rushing to the western side of Ajdabiya to meet the advancing pro-Gaddafi force. Libyan forces have launched repeated air raids during the two-week revolt but all of them have been reported to target facilities that store weapons in areas controlled by the rebels.

Listen!

Listen!

1st of May

[7] Gaddafi feels “betrayed” by the West

The hypocrisy of the imperialists has no limits. In the past they made deals with Gaddafi, both economic and military. That also explains why Gaddafi in a BBC interview revealed that he feels “betrayed”. The BBC reporter Jeremy Bowen put this to Gaddafi:»In recent years you’ve had a rapprochement with Western countries. You’ve had important leaders like Tony Blair here. But now there are Western leaders saying you should go. Do you feel a sense of betrayal about that? Did you ever regard them as friends?» And Gaddafi’s reply was: “Of course it’s betrayal. They have no morals.” Indeed, there is no honour among thieves, as the saying goes.

Tucked away on page 524 of the Congressional Budget Justification, Foreign Operations FY 2009 Budget Request we find that the US government, far from pushing for Gaddafi’s overthrow, had been financing Libya in their so-called effort to “combat al-Qaeda”.

The document clearly explains US objectives in Libya:

____the U.S. will build working linkages within Libya’s security forces that will help foster greater counter-terrorism cooperation. U.S. military education and training funds will educate and train Libyan security forces as well as create vital linkages with Libyan officers after a 35-year break in contact. Initial funding would be used for English language education as U.S. Government representatives in country seek to identify candidates for specific courses on civil-military relations, border security, counter-terrorism, etc.

And as if to cover themselves against any possible accusation that they were in fact training Libyan security forces, that have never been renowned for their respect for human rights, the document adds:

____This would include training programs that bring Libyan officers to the United States and expose them to democratic practices and respect for human rights.

«The Good old days». Group photo of G8 Summit in Italy, with Mubarak and Gaddafi. Photo: White House/ Pete SouzaIn 2008, the US allocated $333,000 in IMET funds and had budgeted a further $350,000 for 2009 for Libya because of its “commitment to renouncing weapons of mass destruction; combating the rapidly growing terrorist threat posed by al-Qaeda in Libya and the region; and promoting professional, effective law enforcement and military services that respect international norms and practices.” (Source :here). Both Egypt and Tunisia received far greater amounts and over a much longer period, without any noticeable improvement in “democratic practices and respect for human rights.” [Note: The IMET, International Military Education and Training, programme provides funding to train military and civilian leaders of foreign countries, primarily at schools and facilities in the US].

The Europeans and the Russians were no better. According to one European Union report, in 2009 alone EU member states provided Gaddafi with €344 million of military equipment. Russian leaders have been making statements in the past few days about Gaddafi being unfit to lead his country, but it was only just over one year ago, in January 2010 that they signed a contract for the supply of military equipment to Libya worth 1.3 billion euros. That was in the good old days when they could do business with the very same man they now say must go.

28th of February

[1] Libya’s opposition movement has seized control of territory close to the capital, Tripoli, as anti-government protesters gear up for what could be a final battle for leader Muammar Gaddafi’s stronghold.

Three areas in the east were reported to be under the control of protesters on Monday, a day after pro-democracy demonstrators took control of the city of Az-Zawiyah, just 50km west of Tripoli. Men opposed to Gaddafi patrolled the streets of Az-Zawiyah, saying they had seized weapons and even tanks which they would use to defend themselves. But they were also bracing themselves for a potential showdown with forces loyal to Gaddafi, who have reportedly surrounded the city.

Ezeldina, a Zawiyah resident, told Al Jazeera that people in the city had raided  military camps to prepare for a potential raid by government forces.»We are expecting an attack at any moment,» he said. «We are forming rotating watch groups, guarding the neighbourhood.»

Listen!

Listen!

Pro-Gaddafi rallies

Government forces manned several checkpoints between Az-Zawiyah and the capital, and supporters of the Libyan leader demonstrated in the Harsha district, 5km from the centre of Zawiyah. Government loyalists also took to the streets just outside the capital, waving posters and chanting slogans. The rallies appeared to be evidence that Gaddafi had not lost complete control of the capital.

Ibrahim Sharquieh, deputy director of the Brookings Doha Centre, said the battle between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces for Tripoli is not likely to be won immediately.»We know that [Gaddafi] is in the Bab al-Aziziya area [of Tripoli] and Bab al-Aziziya seems to be very secure. He has his militia around him and they are doing a good job protecting him,» Sharquieh told Al Jazeera. «He has even made some attacks outside the Bab al-Aziziya area. We can comfortably say that he is still in control in Tripoli. Although there is some resistance in some areas I don’t think we can talk about the city falling today or tomorrow.»

Below: This how Tunisians welcomed Egyptians who arrived in Tunisia after fleeing from Gaddafi’s genocide. They are chanting: «Tunisia and Egypt one hand«.

YEMEN: [2] (Sanaa) – State security forces have participated in or stood by during brutal attacks on journalists covering the February 2011 demonstrations against Yemen’s president, Human Rights Watch said today. Security forces or armed supporters of the president have beaten or harassed at least 31 international and Yemeni journalists in an effort to quash reporting on the protests. [..]

____Beating up journalists is a blatant attempt by the authorities to prevent the Yemeni people and the world from witnessing a critical moment in Yemen… Yemeni authorities should halt these attacks and promptly bring assailants, including security officials, to justice.

(Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch)

Reporters Attacked, Harassed or Injured During February 2011 Anti-Government Demonstrations

1.  Khalil al-Berh, detained for half-hour in car by security officials, digital camera confiscated and returned with memory deleted, Sanaa, February 13. [YJS, CPJ]
2.  Khalid al-Mahdi, photographer for Reuters, detained and camera confiscated, Sanaa, February 13. [YJS, CPJ]
3.  Hani al-Ansi, photographer for The Associated Press, camera confiscated, Sanaa, February 13. [YJS, CPJ]
4.  Wajdi Assalmi, of Hadith al-Madina newspaper, beaten by armed men and camera destroyed, Sanaa, February 13. [YJS, CPJ]
5.  Samia al-Aghrabi, fell and injured head while fleeing armed men, February 13. [YJS, CPJ]
6.  Abdallah Gorab, correspondent for the BBC, beaten with sticks by men armed with knives and guns, Sanaa, February 14. Attackers brought Gorab to Yemeni government official Hafez Meiyad, an associate of the president, who rebuked him for tarnishing Yemen’s reputation, the BBC reported. [YJS, CPJ, BBC]
7.  Mohamed Omran, cameraman for BBC, beaten and watch stolen in same attack as Abdallah Gorab, Sanaa, February 14. [CPJ, BBC]
8.  Majid Shuaibi, Mareb Press, attacked and camera confiscated by armed men, Sanaa, February 14. [YJS]
9.  Salah Saleh, beaten and detained at demonstration, Taizz, February 15. [YJS]
10.  Hassan al-Watat, beaten by armed men, February 16. [CPJ]
11.  Ahmed Ghrasi, photographer for Agence France-Presse, beaten and camera confiscated, Sanaa, February 17. [YJS, CPJ]
12.  Yahya Arhab, European Pressphoto Agency, attacked and camera confiscated, Sanaa, February 17. [YJS, CPJ]
13.  Adel Abdulmughni, reporter for Al-Wahdawi newspaper, attacked and camera confiscated, Sanaa, February 17. [YJS, CPJ]
14.  Amr Awd, Reuters, beaten and camera confiscated, Sanaa, February 17. [YJS, CPJ]
15.  Samir al-Namri, al-Jazeera, beaten and camera destroyed, Sanaa, February 17. [YJS, CPJ]
16.  Muhi al-Din Jarma, reporter for Al-Quds, suffered severe head injuries and internal bleeding after beating by armed men while a plainclothes policeman watched, Sanaa, February 17. [HRW, YJS]
17.  Akram al-Talyae, verbally abused, physically assaulted and camera confiscated, Sanaa, February 17. [YJS]
18.  Tom Finn, correspondent for the Guardian, attacked by a group of men in Sanaa, February 17. [RWB]
19.  Yasser al-Ma’amari, photographer for al-Qatariya, no further details, Sanaa, February 18. [RWB]
20.  Hamoud Munasser, Sanaa bureau chief for Al-Arabiya, beaten with sticks by armed men, Sanaa, February 18. Car attacked by same group in front of director of US-funded Counterterrorism Unit and a Central Investigation Department official. [HRW, YJS, RWB]
21.  Fu’ad al-Khadhr, cameraman for Al-Arabiya, beaten and camera seized by armed men in Sanaa, February 18. [HRW, YJS, RWB]
22.  Muhammad Sa’id al-Sharabi, freelance reporter, attacked by men armed with sticks, Sanaa, February 18. [HRW]
23.  Abd al-Qawi al-Soufi: Al-Arabiya cameraman, beaten by pro-government supporters and his camera broken, February 18. [CPJ]
24.  Awsan al-Qaatabi, correspondent for Iran’s al-Alam TV, attacked, Sanaa, February 18. [YJS, RWB]
25.  Yasser al-Maamari, cameraman for Qatar TV, attacked, Sanaa, February 18. [RWB]
26.  Abd al-Karim Sallam, a correspondent for Swissinfo, attacked by armed men as a plainclothes government security officer watched, subsequently hospitalized, Sanaa, February 20. [HRW, YJS, RWB]
27.  Zaki Saqladi, correspondent for al-Masdar Online, attacked, car and camera seized, ad-Dali, February 22. [RWB]
28.  Marzouq Yasin, freelance journalist, detained by security forces while covering protest, Aden, February 25. [CPJ]
29.  Abdel Rahman Anis, freelance journalist, detained by security forces while covering protest, Aden, February 25. [CPJ]
30.  Bassim al-Shaabi, freelance journalist, detained by security forces while covering protest, Aden, February 25. [CPJ]
31.  Fares al-Jalal, freelance journalist, detained by security forces while covering protest, Aden, February 25. [CPJ]

IRAQ: [3] The wave of revolution that started in Tunisia is now also reaching Iraq, where the Kurdish areas had already flared up last week. But the protests are not limited to these areas. On Friday an anti-government rally named the Day of Rage, was organised in Baghdad and other cities with thousands taking part.

This comes after several weeks of protests around the country against corruption, the shortages of jobs, food, power and water, the high level of unemployment, bad healthcare, bad schooling and a general decline in all services.

At least nine people were killed and 49 wounded in clashes with security forces in several towns across the country when demonstrators tried to storm government buildings and security personnel fired shots into the crowds to try to disperse them. Groups of protesters were shouting “No to unemployment,” and “No to the liar al-Maliki”.

In Baghdad, there were violent clashes between protesters and police. According to the BBC: “Baghdad has been virtually locked down, with the authorities banning traffic in the city centre and deploying several thousand soldiers on the streets.” All the roads leading into Baghdad were blocked off by soldiers in an attempt to thwart people’s attempts to protest. In spite of this, the protest went ahead and there were clashes with the riot police.

From Mosul in the north to Basra in the south there were other such protests. In the northern city of Hawija, security forces first fired into the air as a warning against protesters trying to take over a government building. Later the guns were turned on the people and three were killed and 15 others wounded. In Mosul, large numbers of protesters rallied in front of the provincial council building. Guards opened fire, and two protesters were killed.

In Basra about 4,000 people gathered in front of the Governor’s office demanding his resignation, because he has done nothing to improve city services. Such was the power of the protest movement that the governor actually resigned. Meanwhile, around one thousand demonstrators clashed with police in Fallujah.

Al-Maliki attempts to forestall movement

Prime Minister al-Maliki had earlier urged people not to take part in the protests. He explained this was for “security reasons”. In an attempt to scare people away he said the protests had been organised by al-Qaeda insurgents and Saddam Hussein loyalists. Funnily enough this is more or less the line of Gaddafi in Libya, who says al-Qaeda is behind the revolt that is close to overthrowing him.

Again, copying what we have seen in other Arab countries, al-Maliki in a televised appeal on Thursday, pledged that 70 per cent of Iraq’s budget would be allocated to services. “Your demands have made an impact on the budget,” he said. Why he hadn’t thought of this before the protests erupted he didn’t explain. His promises are empty words, just as those of Ben Ali’s and Mubarak’s were empty words.

OMAN [4] : Following clashes between Omani security forces and anti-government protesters, a police station and a government building have been set on fire.

The confrontation erupted on Sunday in the northern industrial city of Sohar, where more than 2,000 demonstrators had taken to the streets, Reuters reported. Two people have been killed and around five others injured. Omani forces say rubber bullets caused the deaths.

The protest came one day after Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos changed six ministers in his cabinet and raised stipends for university students in an attempt to prevent further protests in the tiny Persian Gulf country. On Saturday, hundreds of protesters also held a rally in Oman’s largest industrial city Sohar, demanding democracy and better living condition.

TUNISIA [5] : Ghannouchi, the prime minister of Tunisia resigned. Demonstrations across the country still take place. Ghannouchi was Ben Ali’s minister until 1999 and had promised elections for July. He has been replaced by a 84 years old man! Ghannouchi has stated: «I was not ready to take decisions that would cause death of civilians»…

Friday, 25 February: [6] Hundreds of thousands marched today in the streets of the main cities and towns of Tunisia against the Gannouchi government and demanding a Constituent Assembly. According to the revolutionary youth which has taken the initiative of these demonstrations, 250,000 marched in the capital Tunis alone, and another 100,000 in other cities (video of demonstration in Sfax). A police source in Tunis gave the figure for demonstrators in the capital at “over 100,000”. The Red Crescent said that this was “the largest demonstration since the fall of Ben Ali”.

_________________________________
[1] AlJazeera: Gaddafi rivals close in on Tripoli
[2] Human Rights Watch, Yemen: Security Forces, Gangs Attack Reporters
[3] Fred Weston, Iraq about to join the Arab revolution?
[4] Press TV, Buildings on fire amid Oman clashes
[5] Athens Indymedia, Bye Bye Ghannouchi
[6] Jorge Martín, The second wave of the Tunisian revolution: down with Gannouchi – all power to the revolutionary people
[7] Fred Weston, No to imperialist intervention in Libya
[8] Al Jazeera, Battle rages over Libyan oil port
Editing, presentation, translations: Michael Theo

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Yemen, at least 17 killed. Iraq, 19 dead. Egypt: protesters under attack.

[1]Update: As the sun rises in Aden Saturday, 17 persons were killed overnight in in six locations, that’s an early figure, and dozens wounded. Details, links here. Video and live blogging the massacre below the fold.

Original: There are wounded persons and dead bodies in the streets that no one can get to because of the central security forces (CSF) are shooting live rounds. Tanks moved in earlier today and CSF had new large weapons that residents hadn’t seen before. One person identified them as anti-aircraft machine guns and said they were strafing residential homes. Snipers were positioned on the roofs and remain there. Ambulances are blocked. There is an urgent need for blood and medicine. Heavy gunfire is ongoing. Dozens are wounded. Seventeen fatalities were counted as follows, but the evenings death toll will likely rise. The lights are off.

This video was shot in front of the Aden Hotel in Khormakser, Aden as people ran from the gunfire:

This video shows one of the many peaceful protests around Aden today where police opened fire:

Dead are as follows:
7 dead in Al-Areesh
4 dead in Khormakser
2 confirmed + unconfirmed # in Malla
1 dead in Tawahi
2 dead in Mansoura
1 Dead in Salahudin.

The state allowed live coverage of the student’s protests in Sana’a, but barred journalists from Aden. President Saleh made an announcement yesterday ordering police to protect protesters that received a lot of coverage. Twitter is down. Below the fold Human Rights Watch verified one death in Muallah when police shot into the crowd as they were chanting «peaceful peaceful» earlier. HRW is identifying the new weapon as a «military assault weapon.» Their report ends at 10 pm Aden time, which was five hours ago. Its 3 am there now, and there’s still shooting.»

Al Tagheer (ar) listed 19 killed and 124 injured in the prior week in Aden alone.

        Yemen: Security Forces Kill Aden Protester

At Least a Dozen Wounded in Shootings on Peaceful Protests

(Aden, February 25, 2011) – Government security forces opened fire on peaceful anti-government protesters in several areas of the Yemeni port city of Aden on February 25, 2011, killing one demonstrator and wounding at least a dozen others, Human Rights Watch today.

The security forces opened fire in the afternoon in the al-Mu’alla district as more than 1,000 protesters chanting “peaceful, peaceful,” and carrying posters reading “peaceful” stopped about 100 meters from a line of approximately 100 military, police, and other security forces, the witness said. President Ali Abdullah Saleh had two days earlier promised to prevent clashes at anti-government demonstrations and protect the rights of protesters to assemble peacefully.

“Two days after President Saleh promised to halt all attacks on peaceful protesters, there is more bloodshed,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Other countries, including The United States, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia, need to press Yemen to stop these senseless and illegal attacks.”

At least one security officer stepped out and opened fire with a military assault weapon without giving a warning, the witness told Human Rights Watch. He said the gunman wore the gray uniform of the National Security Bureau. Police then immediately opened fire, shooting both into the air and straight at the crowd, and also fired teargas at the protesters, the witness said.

“Suddenly I heard screams, turned around, and saw two men on the ground,” the witness said. “One of them was shot in the head – he was lying on the ground face down, blood streaming from his head. He didn’t move. The other guy was screaming, ‘My arm! My arm!’ – he got two bullets in his shoulder.”

Security forces also opened fire without warning on another peaceful demonstration in the al-’Arish area of Aden, a human rights activist at the scene told Human Rights Watch. The activist said he saw at least five people fall to the ground after being hit by bullets, mostly in the legs.

Another witness told Human Rights Watch that at about 7 p.m., security forces shot randomly and fired teargas at several hundred people who began protesting in the Crater Area after police dispersed a crowd near the Aden Hotel. Protesters there set a police station on fire.

A doctor in one of the hospitals in Aden said that 11 people with bullet wounds were delivered to his hospital after the protests. Two others were taken to a second hospital, one of whom died from a head wound, while the other had a chest wound and was in critical condition. The protester who died at the hospital was Muhammad Ahmad Salih, media reports and local human rights activists said.

As of 10 p.m., shooting continued in several areas of Aden where uniformed security forces and men in civilian clothes carrying AK-47 assault rifles had deployed, a local activist at the scene said. He said that he saw police shooting at protesters in al-Mu’alla, the site of the fatal shooting earlier in the day.

[3] These were a series of tweets received earlier tonight (late night, early morning Egypt time) from activists that had been demonstrating against the government in Tahrir Square. The most disturbing thing as someone receiving and trying to report these, was the media blackout that came along with the attacks. The Al Jazeera’s Egypt Live Blog has been dormid for days and is now actually not even found in AJ’s blogs page. There were NO news networks there to report on these attacks…

This is what we received between and around the hours of 8 and 10 pm US Eastern time.

Mona Seif:

        Military police prevented my mother passage to demo and encircled her. This is not good. They are completely & tightly circled by military police. I can’t get to them. Military police removing the tents in Tahrir square now. They threatened wt arresting people. People are leaving,I insisted I won’t leave without my family. I think I will be left alone. […] Number is dramatically decreasing by the parliament and military police encircling the protesters. Just received a testimony of a protester who was detained last week. Beating up, electrocution, and special sexual harassment 2 girls.

Masked people with walkie talkies and machine guns along with military police in Tahrir square trying to shut down the strike. Let me be clear, the machine guns weren’t used but they were obviously there to intimidate people. They are dispersing people with violence from Tahrir square.

monasosh monasosh

        Military police r threatening us now, they have orders to evacuate. People should either leave or risk getting detained

Mona Seif:

        We saw them kidnapping one on the side and kicking the crap out of him,we’d scream and say they are beating him they say no they aren’t…

Mona Seif:

        Some protesters are injured and on the street. Today both the military police and Army officers were less disciplined and more abusive in their manners and threatening. The irony of it is 5 mins b4 they beat us they staged a whole. Sentimental show of army officer hugging 1 of the protesters

moftasa

        Military police used electric prods, thistime regular infantry joined in the beating, many injuries… The army showed its true face tonight using extreme violence to disperse the two sit-ins and arresting many

Muhammad Abdalfattah:

        We were electrocuted, beaten, people passed out. Some sustained injuries.

Muhammad Effat:

        Army attacked peaceful protesters using batons, electrifying sticks and chased us down Al Qasr al eini holding machine guns!!

[4] Mass demonstrations took place in Iraq. Thousands of Iraqis in several cities led to the occupation of public places and government buildings.  The rebels seek, among other things:
– Work for all
– Electricity for all
– Clean drinking water for all
– Decent pensions
– A decent health system

The government responded to their requests with:
– Firing against protesters
– Flash grenades
– Tear gas and chemicals
– Water canons

The authorities are in such a panic that in Baghdad curfew concerns not only cars but even bicycles. In response, residents walked for several kilometers to meet each-other again in Liberty Square.

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[1] The Jawa Report: Slaughter in Aden Yemen Now, Update: 17 killed
[3] Indymedia Ireland, Egypt Critical News Update #27
[4] Athens Indymedia, 19 άνθρωποι νεκροί στο Ιράκ, σε κινητοποιήσεις εναντίον της κυβέρνησης

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