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Tunisian Revolution and the Middle East


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Unfortunately I think the Saudi's won't hesitate to crack down hard on protesters. But if/when Ghaddafi goes down then that might show the people it doesn't matter because the people can win out. Who knows though.

I hope the Saudis will be smart and try to head off the protests before they start, by at least partially giving in.

If they make some serious acceptable concessions early, instead of letting things drag on or cracking down, things may have a chance of working out for the best.

(The US may want to make some statements ahead of the protests too, encouraging reform and supporting their rights to protest. Not sure what specifically could be said, but it would be nice to not be so far behind events for once)

I don't really know what would happen if Saudi Arabia were to go into a full scale revolt right now.

The idea kind of scares me, although it excites me as well.

We'll have to see.

In any case I hope things work out for the best for everyone.

Yemen bears watching as well, I have a feeling something big is coming there.

The government seems to have played most of their cards already other than cracking down or resigning.

The protester numbers are increasing quite a bit and growing more resolute at the same time.

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I hope the Saudis will be smart and try to head off the protests before they start, by at least partially giving in.

If they make some serious acceptable concessions early, instead of letting things drag on or cracking down, things may have a chance of working out for the best.

(The US may want to make some statements ahead of the protests too, encouraging reform and supporting their rights to protest. Not sure what specifically could be said, but it would be nice to not be so far behind events for once)

I don't really know what would happen if Saudi Arabia were to go into a full scale revolt right now.

The idea kind of scares me, although it excites me as well.

We'll have to see.

In any case I hope things work out for the best for everyone.

Yemen bears watching as well, I have a feeling something big is coming there.

The government seems to have played most of their cards already other than cracking down or resigning.

The protester numbers are increasing quite a bit and growing more resolute at the same time.

I think Yemen is going to fall, Libya as well. Bahrain is going to be interesting and things appear to be kicking off in Oman. I think we will see at least a few more governments fall before its all said and done.

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Yemen yes,I wouldn't count on Libya for awhile w/o intervention.

Bahrain I think compromise will win out

The Sauds are trying stay ahead by dealing and will definitely play rough if it gets to that,as will Oman

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If Yemen goes down, I think they have a huge chance of heading into a prolonged civil war; however, hopefully if it goes down & they move towards modernism and a free society. Each day that counts by in Libya without Gadaffi dying is another day closer to large scale civil war - they absolutely must finish it off quickly there. It's yet to see how Egypt ends up - my hope is that the military transitions it over & they get democratic elections. If a fundamentalist slant takes over & they violate that treaty with Israel it's hello WWIII.

If Saudi were to light on fire....wow; who knows what happens. Oman would be nice, but I don't know if it has a huge impact either way. I'd feel good for Oman if it ignites though & those people get their freedom. Bahrain is a little bit more of a move towards fundamentalist Islam. I don't think we want any part of that revolution happening.

The Jasmine Revolution would be awesome, but while the Chinese government is super jittery, it seems unlikely right now.

As I'm saying right now, my analogy is that the offense has the ball about 1 inch out of the endzone right now - and someone is about to get a big play. Either the offense converts & the world ends up a more modern, peaceful place or the defense gets a safety and we're gonna kick off World War III. Call me crazy, & maybe I'm over-analyzing this but right now my feeling is that the peace of the modern world hangs in the balance on how this all shakes out.

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Lots of reports today of major protests going on in Iran.

Not a lot of media coverage so far.

some updates on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/JShahryar

@blakehounshell And when I say too many security forces, I mean almost 1 for each protester the past few protests. No kidding. 31 minutes ago via web in reply to blakehounshell
Iran: I can confirm. At least two gatherings in Tehran right now. In Karim Khan Bridge / Vesal Ave and in Imam Hossein Square. #IranElection 28 minutes ago via web
Iran: More reports of people gathering in Enghelab Square, Valiasr Square and in front of Tehran Uni, in Tehran. Some clashes #IranElection 12 minutes ago via web

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/03/iran-live-blog-10-esfand-march-1.html

6:10 p.m. Eyewitnesses tell BBC Persian that people created an artificial traffic congestion in Resalat Avenue to halt the advance of riot police and Basij. Bardia on EPersian says he is at the intersection of Vali Asr and Enghelab and that tear gas has been fired there. Ferdowsi Square has been closed off by police. People have gotten out of their cars and are walking westward down Enghelab toward Azadi Square.

http://twitter.com/MikVerbrugge

#Iran #10Esfand Reports of Plaincloths & Basijis overrun by protesters. Security Forces use of teargas not working. 2 minutes ago via web
#Iran #10Esfand Police Radio report of Basijis asking for support after having been surrounded & attacked near Enghelab. half a minute ago via web
#Iran #10Esfand Reports of protests, masses on streets of Shiraz, Karaj, Rasht, Tabriz. 1 minute ago via web

http://twitter.com/oxfordgirl

thr appears 2 B a plan 2 march on certain homes of high ranking regime figures while security forces busy w/ main protests #iranelection 6 minutes ago via TweetDeck
msg from green activists need 2 verify as new source, "we cn arrange house arrest 2 4 the regime, till they free Mir Hossein" #iranelection 4 minutes ago via TweetDeck

http://twitter.com/sayahcnn

630p Tehran witness- protesters chant "death to dictator" near Azadi & Enghelab Aves #iran #cnn #10esfand #1esfand 4 minutes ago via web
630p Tehran witness- protesters chant "Khamenei is murderer! His authority is void!" #iran #cnn #10esfand #1esfand 2 minutes ago via web
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http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/01/n-africa-mideast-protests-un-head-hints-at-further-action-against-gadhafi/

[YEMEN, 12:01 p.m. ET, 8:01 p.m. local]Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh fired the governors of five of the nation's provinces, where anti-government protests have unfolded for several weeks. All five were appointed to other positions, according to a decree released Tuesday.
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This seems like a good move.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/20113393825273567.html

Army appoints new Egyptian PM

Egypt's governing military council has accepted the resignation of Ahmed Shafiq, the prime minister, and appointed a former transport minister, Essam Sharaf, to form a new government, according to an army announcement.

The statement was carried on the military's Facebook page on Thursday and then confirmed by a military spokesman.

"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces decided to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and appointed Essam Sharaf to form the new government," the statement said.

The council said it had tasked Sharaf with forming a new caretaker cabinet tthat would oversee the country's transition to civilian rule.

Sharaf took part in the mass rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square which brought down Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president, on February 11 after three decades in power.

Shafiq had been picked to head the cabinet by Mubarak before the president stepped down.

Since the fall of Mubarak, protesters have continued to call for a replacement of the current government, which includes several ministers from the toppled regime.

Sharaf served as transport minister from 2004 to 2005. He resigned following a deadly train accident in protest over what he called a lack of vision and resources to improve the country's railway system.

After quitting government, he returned to academia to teach as a professor at Cairo University.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said the appointment of Sharaf was likely to get a warm welcome from the opposition.

"Just last night I was at a meeting of the youth and opposition groups. Certainly, the members of the Muslim Brotherhood, April 6 movement and other parties at that meeting had very positive things to say about him," she said.

"Essam Sharaf was in fact their man, their candidate if you like, when they were going to meet with the military supreme council talking about where to go next"

"Sharaf does command a lot of respect, for the fact that he's been in academia since he stepped down a few years ago and the fact that he stepped down in opposition to President Mubarak and the way the transport ministry was run."

However, she said protests, which had been called for Friday in an attempt to topple Shafiq, were still expected to go ahead but with a different message.

"They [protest organisers] want to keep up the pressure in terms of their other demands, like the release of political prisoners and the lifting of emergency law," she said.

"But they're saying very clearly that they're not going to be calling for a sit-in."

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Not really part of the middle East but Ivory coast is in the middle of a big struggle right now.

They're talking about it on Al Jazeera right now.

Government forces shot down 6 women protesting today.

Mmmhh...the Al Jazeera anchor in New York (UN) (Kristen Saloomey) is kind of distracting. :pfft:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/03/201133135346891629.html

Security forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, Cote d'Ivoire's disputed president, have shot dead at least six women at a demonstration in support of his rival, Alassane Ouattara.

Thursday's shooting took place after several hundred women gathered in the Abobo neighbourhood of Abidjan, the country's commercial capital, shouting "Gbagbo, get out!" and "Alassane for president", a resident told the AFP news agency.

Mohamed Dosso, an assistant to the mayor of Abobo, said an armoured personnel carrier and several pickup vehicles showed up as the women were protesting and opened fire.

Sirah Drane, 41, who helped organise the march, said she was holding the megaphone and preparing to address the large crowd.

"That's when we saw the tanks," she said. "There were thousands of women. And we said to ourselves, 'They won't shoot at women.' ... I heard a boom. They started spraying us. ... I tried to run and fell down. The others trampled me. Opening fire on unarmed women? It's inconceivable."

The attack prompted an immediate rebuke from the U.S., which like most governments has urged Gbagbo to step down and has recognized his rival as the country's legitimate president.

"The moral bankruptcy of Laurent Gbagbo is evident as his security forces killed women protesters," PJ Crowley, the US State Department spokesman, said in a Twitter message.

The UN has said more than 200,000 people have fled Abobo amid days of heavy street fighting between police loyal to Gbagbo and rebel soldiers allied with Ouattara.

Cote d'Ivoire has been in turmoil since Gbagbo refused to cede power in October last after Ouattara was internationally recognised to have won the presidential election.

The standoff reached a new level last week after forces loyal to Gbagbo began using deadly weapons, including mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

The post-election violence has claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

Multiple delegations of African leaders have failed to persuade Gbagbo to leave office, with the president rejecting all of their proposals, including offers of an amnesty and exile abroad.

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http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/04/n-africa-mideast-protests-gadhafi-agrees-to-goodwill-commission-idea/?hpt=T2

[sAUDI ARABIA, 6:36 a.m. ET, 2:36 p.m. local]Demonstrators protested in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province on Friday to demand the release of Shiite prisoners they feel are being held unjustly.

An outspoken Shiite prayer leader who demonstrators say was arrested last Friday was a focal point of the "day of rage" protest, said Ibrahim

Al-Mugaiteeb, president of the Human Rights First Society.

Sheikh Tawfeeq Al-Amer was arrested Friday after a sermon stating that

Saudi Arabia should become a constitutional monarchy, Al-Mugaiteeb said.

[YEMEN, 6:26 a.m. ET, 2:26 p.m. local]Security forces opened fire on protesters on the northern Yemeni city of Harf Sufyan Friday, killing two people and injuring nine others.
[iRAQ, 6:10 a.m. ET, 2:10 p.m. local] Authorities imposed curfews and limited access to city centers across Iraq as thousands of protesters demanded economic progress and an end to corruption, police said.

Demonstrators were reported to be gathering in Baghdad, Basra, Nineveh, Anbar and Salaheddin.

The developments follow weeks of demonstrations across the country by

protesters angry about unemployment, poor basic services, corruption and a lack of freedom. At least 13 people died in protests on February 25.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/20113494623209124.html

Yemeni soldiers have opened fire on an anti-government protest in the country's north, killing at least two people and wounding at least seven others, Shia rebels said.

Soldiers fired rockets and artillery at protesters in Semla, a village in the northern province of Amran on Friday, about 170km from Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, sources said.

"During a peaceful protest this Friday morning ... demanding the fall of the regime, an end to corruption and political

change, a military site fired rockets at a group of protesters and hit dozens of people," rebels said in a statement.

"The area [Amran], a Houthi stronghold, has seen many clashes in the past between the army and rebels," Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reported from the capital, Sanaa on Friday.

Ahelbarra said local security forces dismissed the Houthi's account of events, saying armed tribesmen tried to enter one of the city's security checkpoints by force, after which "clashes ensued, three tribesmen and four policemen were injured".

On Thursday, tens of thousands of people protested across the country, leading to clashes between demonstrators and security officials.

Pro-government and anti-government protesters continued to gather in the capital on Friday.

"We have two huge gatherings at the same time," Al Jazeera's Ahelbarra said from Sanaa. "At the campus of Sanaa's university, thousands gathered after the Friday prayer."

"They are saying they will continue the fight and that they would like to push for dramatic change in the country, including the departure of president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his political elite," Ahelbarra said.

At the same time, in the city's Tahrir Square "thousands of government supporters took to the streets, denouncing the [anti-government] protesters, saying that they are dragging the nation into chaos and anarchy," our correspondent reported.

This week, a coalition of opposition groups and religious scholars offered Saleh a smooth exit from power by the end of 2011.

The plan seeks to end the country's political crisis, calling for a "peaceful transition of power" from Saleh, and also demanding a probe be launched into a deadly crackdown on the recent anti-government protests.

Anti-government protesters are unimpressed by the proposal. "They feel that president Ali Abdullah Saleh is trying to out-manouvre them by proposing different alternatives for an exit strategy," Ahelbarra reported.

"The opposition and the president are embroiled in a war of words. Each has a proposal and each proposal was rejected by the other side," he said.

The new opposition plan does not detail how Saleh, who has been in power 32 years, would hand over power.

Mohammed al-Sabri, an opposition parliamentary spokesman, said the opposition expects the president to come forward with his own proposal.

But Saleh "has slammed all attempts to resign within six months" Ahelbarra reported, saying that he intends to remain in power until his term ends in 2013.

The proposal by the opposition also calls for steps to change the constitution and rewriting election laws to ensure fair representation in parliament, removing Saleh's relatives from leadership positions in the army and security forces, and a guaranteed right to peaceful protest.

There's also reports of protests in Bahrain and Oman today.

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http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/201134133360710.html

Bahraini opposition to enter talks

Groups in Gulf country accept royal family's offer for dialogue, as Sunnis and Shias clash south of Manama.

Last Modified: 04 Mar 2011 01:49 GMT

Opposition groups in Bahrain say they are prepared to accept the ruling family's offer of entering into a dialogue to address their political greivances, after weeks of protests in the country.

Abdul Jalil Khalil, a senior leader of the Shia opposition, said on Thursday the monarchy's opponents are now ready to accept an offer that was made by the crown-prince.

"We will talk to the crown prince, but we are not going to sit together for a casual chat, but for a meaningful dialogue only," said Khalil, a leader of Bahrain's main oppostion Al Wefaq bloc.

Khalil said no date had been set for the talks, which will be held with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa.

Six opposition groups have set conditions for the dialogue, which have been received by the Crown Prince, the government confirmed. A government statement said that despite "substantial differences between the various groups and parties", a "political consensus" must be reached.

The conditions include the abolition of the 2002 constitution and "the election of a constitutional assembly for drafting a new basic law" for the country, an opposition spokesman told media earlier on Thursday.

The opposition wants citizens to be able to "elect a parliament with full legislative powers".

The final condition is that the outcomes of the dialogue are guaranteed to be "applied and respected".

One of the other major discussion points during talks will be the opposition's earlier stated demand that the current government be replaced in response to the killing of protesters who turned out in mass demonstrations which began on February 14.

"This government has to resign because it has committed illegal acts and violated human rights," said Ali Salman, the leader of the Al Wefaq movement. "We want a government of quality, an elected government and not a government stained with blood."

Earlier attempts at talks with the ruling party had been rejected by the opposition, who said this key demand must be met and that the ruling family should apologise for the killings.

On Wednesday night, Sheikh Abdel Latif al-Mahmud, a Sunni cleric, told a pro-government rally that a national dialogue should begin soon, but that it should take place without any preconditions and that the current government should remain in place.

Currently, only one house of Bahrain's parliament is elected, but it holds limited authority, and its status is in limbo after 18 Al Wefaq lawmakers walked out of the 40-member body in protest against the killing of protesters

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Not sure what this is about....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

#2127: Update from Alexandria, Egypt: protesters are reported to have broken into the state security HQ, with multiple reports of documents being burned.
#2132: From Egypt, Mohamed A. Hamama tweets a picture of what he says is inside the Alexandria security HQ: "Tons of documents shredded by #SS officers in #Alex http://yfrog.com/gyjd1kgj via @rawyasadek #Egypt #Jan25"
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http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/04/n-africa-mideast-protests-gadhafi-agrees-to-goodwill-commission-idea/?hpt=T2

[sAUDI ARABIA, 12:04 p.m. ET, 8:04 p.m. local] A second protest unfolded in Riyadh after Friday prayer, according to two Saudi activists who requested they not be identified because of concerns for their safety.

As many as 40 anti-government demonstrators gathered outside Al-Rajhi Mosque for a short protest. At least one man involved in organizing the protest was arrested, the activists said.

The activists said the protesters attracted a crowd of worshipers leaving the mosque. Some of the protesters carried signs showing a map of Saudi Arabia that did not contain the words "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," an affront to the Saudi royal family.

They're showing footage on CNN now of the government tanks gunning down people and killing the 6 women protesting peacefully in the Ivory Coast.

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More on the Alexandria protests

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/201134228359128.html

Around 1,500 protesters have stormed Alexandria's state security headquarters after earlier clashes with police, gaining control of its lower floors and driving police officers to hide in the upper floors of the building, witnesses and protesters told Al Jazeera.

Hundreds of the protesters stormed the building on Friday night, after petrol bombs and gunfire were reported as emanating from within the building.

One witness said that demonstrators had smashed pieces of furniture on the ground floor of the building, adding that army troops were guarding the upper floors of the four-storey building.

Ahmed Hatem, a protester on the scene, said that the army had told demonstrators that they had orders to arrest the members of the state security agency, but that they would not do so unless they could guarantee that the arrests could be made safely.

Hatem said the army had been "rather cooperative with the demonstrators".

He said that security officers had used live ammunition and petrol bombs to try and disperse protesters, seriously injuring at least two people. The Associated Press, quoting a medic, put that number at three.

Egyptian local media and protesters on the ground in Alexandria said that police personnel in the building were seen setting fire to and shredding sensitive documents, including passports and national identification cards.

A witness said that soliders warned police officers not to fire on demonstrators from within the building, but the police did not comply. Demonstrators then laid siege to the building.

Gunfire was heard in the area during the standoff, and tear gas was also used by the police to try and disperse protesters. Earlier, state security forces had reportedly opened fire to try and push demonstrators away, which prompted the army to move in and secure the building. Hatem said there was a large army presence around the building now, including the deployment of tanks.

Protesters smashed the windows of several cars belonging to the state security service, including two armoured vehicles, while petrol bombs thrown from the building set fire to four other vehicles, witnesses said.

The activists who called the protests say they are demanding the abolition of the state security apparatus and an end to emergency laws. They alleged that the Egyptian security agencies have arrested and tortured thousands of activists and killed many during the 30 years of Hosni Mubarak, the former president's, rule.

The Egyptian interior ministry confirmed to Al Jazeera that protesters had forced state security agency members to take refuge in the building, but did not substantiate the allegations that they had used live ammunition to fire on protesters.

Earlier in the day, Essam Sharif, the newly appointed Egyptian prime minister, spoke to thousands of pro-democracy campaigners in Cairo's Tahrir Square. During his brief speech, Sharif said the state security apparatus must work for the good of the people.

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http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/03/20113512417540287.html

Youths 'attack Algerian protesters'

Reports say pro-regime supporters attacked protesters and tried to lynch prominent opposition politician in Algiers.

Anti-government protesters have been attacked in the Algerian capital and an attempt made to lynch a prominent opposition politician, local media have said.

The reports said that protests organised by the National Co-ordination for Democracy and Change (CNDC) in Algiers were violently suppressed on Saturday morning.

According to the the Algerian daily newspaper El Watan, a group of youths tried to lynch Said Sadi, the president of the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD).

Dozens of youths wearing banners supporting Abdelaziz Bouteflicka, the Algerian president, forced Sadi to flee in his car after they threatened to kill him in the al-Madania neighbourhood of Algiers, the publication said.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/201135143046557642.html

Saudi Arabia has banned all protests and marches following recent anti-government protests in the kingdom’s east, reports say.

State television on Saturday quoted the interior ministry as saying that security forces would use all measures to prevent any attempt to disrupt public order.

The ban on public demonstrations comes amid media reports of a huge mobilisation of Saudi troops in Shia-dominated provinces in order to quell any possible uprising.

According to The Independent, a British newspaper, 10,000 security personnel are being sent to the region by road, clogging highways into Dammam and other cities.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

#1456: Separately, Yemen's Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Hashid Abdullah al-Ahmar, has resigned from the ruling General People's Congress party in protest at the use of violence against anti-government protesters. On Friday, an ally of the president, tribal sheikh Ali Ahmad al-Umrani, also resigned.
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http://english.aljazeera.net/video/middleeast/2011/03/20113565533194678.html

Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said has replaced two ministers, after protests erupted demanding reforms and an end to corruption in the Gulf state, state media has reported.

Demonstrators have urged the sultan to dismiss all government ministers and have them investigated for any illegal activities.

The sultan appointed Khaled bin Hilal bin Saud al-Busaidi as a minister of the royal court, replacing Sayed Ali bin Hmud al-Busaidi, the state ONA news agency said on Saturday.

He also appointed Sultan bin Mohammed al-Numani as minister in the sultan's office, replacing General Ali bin Majid al-Maamari, it added.

Meanwhile, protests in the country have spread to a key oil region, Haima, with oil workers staging a sit-in in the area about 500km southwest of the capital Muscat.

The oil workers are calling for more government investment in the area, a government official told the Associated Press.

Demonstrations flared last week, with protesters seeking jobs and a greater political voice. One demonstrator was killed.

Sultan Qaboos has since ordered 50,000 new civil service jobs. But the measure failed to halt sit-ins in Muscat and the northern industrial city of Sohar, where the unrest began.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/03/201135191014782155.html

The UN is to send 2,000 more troops to Cote d'Ivoire to reinforce the existing peacekeeping force there, a UN official has said.

Choi Young-jin, the UN special representative for Cote d'Ivoire, said on Saturday that the decision was prompted by a surge in violence in the West African country.

On Thursday, government troops killed at least six women who were protesting against Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to step down as president, three months after the country's disputed election.

"What we are seeing is clearly an escalation of violence," Choi told the Liberation newspaper in an interview published on Saturday. "Since Feb 19, incidents have gotten more serious."

The 8,000-strong UN force is trying to prevent violence between Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner of the election, from tipping into a civil war.

Clashes between factions loyal to each side have grown increasingly violent in the past couple of months.

About 800 peacekeepers are stationed around a hotel in Abidjan, the commercial capital, where Ouattara has been holed up since November.

Ouattara hopes that economic sanctions will eventually weaken Gbagbo's grip on power.

The UN has said at least 365 people have been killed in violence since November 28.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/201134183528970309.html

Protesters accuse state television of exploiting sectarian tensions and call for ousting of King Hamad.

Several thousand anti-government demonstrators have rallied outside Bahrain's state television building, demanding democratic reforms and the ousting of the ruling family.

It was one of two anti-government rallies held in Bahrain on Friday. One group of protesters - estimated by witnesses to be in the tens of thousands - marched from the prime minister's office to Pearl Roundabout, the intersection in Manama which has become the symbolic heart of the protest movement.

That rally was organised by the country's six formal opposition parties, which had submitted a list of demands to the crown prince one day earlier.

The other rally, organised by Bahraini youth, marched on the state television building in Madinat Isa, a small village 15km south of the capital.

The competing rallies ostensibly had similar goals: Demonstrators at both called for political reforms, such as empowering the parliament and electing a new prime minister.

But they also highlighted what seems to be a deepening split within Bahrain's protest movement, between a formal opposition committed to dialogue with the ruling al-Khalifa family, and a youth movement increasingly committed to toppling the monarchy.

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http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/20113685530525305.html

Thousands of protesters have gathered outside the prime minister's office in Bahrain to demand that he step down, as their campaign for reform in the tiny Gulf nation enters its third week.

Protesters on Sunday massed at the Al-Qudaibiya Palace in the capital, Manama, where Bahrain's cabinet usually meets, chanting slogans against the government and King Hamad.

Demonstrators shouted "Topple Hamad! Topple Hamad!" and "Hey Khalifa, get out! Get out!", referring to the country's long-time prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa.

"We want the prime minister to go," Alaa al-Nasr, a 24-year-old demonstrator, told the AFP news agency.

In addition to the protest at Al-Qudaibiya, demonstrators remain in hundreds of tents at Manama's Pearl Roundabout, which has become the epicentre of the anti-government protests which started 21 days ago.

Mansoor al-Arayedh, chairman of the Gulf Council for Foreign Relations, told Al Jazeera that protests appeared likely to continue and urged the government to speed up its dealings with the opposition.

"I see more demonstrations coming in the following week. They government has called for dialogue with the opposition parties and most of civic society to reach some sort of compromise ... the long this takes the more agitated civil society will be," he said.

"I would welcome a situation that would allow the government to act in a faster way - maybe some sort of a privy council, at least initially," said al-Arayedh, himself a former senator in Bahrain.

"It's a constitutional monarchy so you can't pretend it's Egypt or Tunisia, it's part of the GCC - that's another element that needs to be looked at. The third thing is it's a US ally and therefore stability becomes very important."

I saw on Al Jazeera that around 14 parliament members had resigned to side with the protesters.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

#1826: While the world's attention has been focussed on the dramatic news coming out of Libya, in neighbouring Egypt the protest movement that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down last month has dealt what may turn out to be the knock-out blow to his regime. Within the past 48 hours Egyptian protesters have stormed the headquarters of the secret police in Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere.
#1830: Egypt's secret police, known as the State Security Investigation Police, was feared and hated. Dismantling the organisation has been one of the key demands of the protest movement that ousted Mr Mubarak after 18 days of street demonstrations.
#1833: But tensions remain high in Egypt, as suggested by these two tweets from Sandmonkey, a blogger in Cairo: "The army is shooting in the air at the protesters and Elsayedah people are throwing molotov at them from other side. Thugs came running at us, we started running away from bulletfire.#jan25 #amndawla"
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Little late but finally got some of my videos up on a friends youtube channel from the protests in Cairo on the 25th through the 30th if anyone is interested here they are.

http://www.youtube.com/user/oeun9000#p/u/11/GFLjzW4gB_g

Here is my channel with a few others uploaded.

http://www.youtube.com/user/jpyaks

Definitely have to check those out when I have time.

More news from Tunisia and Egypt today:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/03/201137142987373.html

Tunisian PM names new cabinet

Tunisia's prime minister has named a new government following a number of resignations that has revived questions about the country's post-revolution direction.

Beji Caid Sebsi has kept the heads of the crucial defence, interior, justice and foreign-affairs ministries in their posts.

But he named new figures to six posts vacated last week by ministers apparently trying to distance themselves from the caretaker government, seen by some as too close to the regime of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The members of the new cabinet will not be allowed to be candidates in future elections.

By unveiling a new team entirely made up of technocrats rather than career politicians, Sebsi is seeking to assert his authority and see through a delicate transition in which Tunisians will elect a constituent assembly on July 24 to rewrite the constitution.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/2011365436227288.html

Egypt PM appoints new key ministers

Egypt's prime minister has appointed new ministers for the foreign-affairs and interior portfolios in a further sign that ousted president Hosni Mubarak's old guard are being removed from the cabinet.

Essam Sharaf named Nabil Elaraby, a former judge with the Hague-based International Court of Justice, and Mansour el-Essawy for the crucial positions on Sunday, according to a post on the Facebook page of the prime minister's office.

Elaraby's appointment came hours after El-Essawy's, but Sharaf's cabinet list has yet to be confirmed.

Elaraby would replace Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, who has held the post since 2004.

El-Essawy replaces Mohmoud Wagdi, who was appointed by Mubarak in the wake of the violent crackdown on anti-government protesters by security forces on January 28. El-Essawy is a former head of security for Giza, which is in greater Cairo, and is a former governor of Minya in Upper Egypt.

Sharaf also named Mohammed al-Guindy, a former attorney general, as minister of justice to replace Mamdouh Marie, who has been widely accused of corruption.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, said: "The message that's being delivered to the international community with someone that's as seasoned a diplomat as Nabil Elaraby is that it's a departure from the past [of Mubarak]."

Edited by visionary
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

#1743: Mr Essebsi has also announced that the Tunisian secret police has been dissolved. The BBC's Magdi Abdelhadi says this has been a key demand of the anti-government protesters who toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January. "Scrapping this much hated agency will be seen as the ultimate victory over the Ben Ali regime, under which it played a key role in suppressing the opposition," he says. "The decision to dissolve the secret police was announced shortly after the appointment of a new transitional government that has no ministers who served under Mr Ben Ali. With this, the Tunisian revolution appears to have met two of its main goals."
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http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/201138221445562590.html

Yemeni police fire on protesters

At least 75 pro-democracy demonstrators injured in the shooting as calls for president Saleh's ouster gain momentum.

Security forces in Yemen have opened fire on peaceful protesters in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, wounding at least 75 people demonstrating for an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule.

Three of the wounded were in a serious condition, according to medical sources.

Policemen and security agents in civilian clothes opened fire as they tried to prevent people from joining thousands of protesters who have camped out for weeks in front of Sanaa University, the epicentre of the demonstrations.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the capital Sanaa, said the security forces were "clearly given orders to disperse the crowd."

"This is a dramatic turn of events that will likely raise tensions. The protesters were trying to move to Tahrir Square, and the government seems to have panicked," he added.

Our correspondent points out that the shooting comes few weeks after president Saleh pledged to protect peaceful protesters.

Meanwhile, three prisoners at a Sanaa prison were reported killed and four others injured, Sharif Mobley, an inmate, told Al Jazeera via phone.

Dozens more were injured as a consequence of the unrest, which began on Monday, when around 2,000 prisoners staged riots, taking a dozen guards hostage.

The inmates set their blankets and mattresses on fire before occupying the prison's main courtyard, an official who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media said.

The guards fired tear gas and gunshots into the air but failed to subdue the prisoners, the official added.

"At the moment there is no violence, there is no fighting," Mobley said on Tuesday morning, "but the situation is really looking very bad".

"The offices of the prison official have been burned down and the guards have all left and are now outside," he said.

"Authorities are outside the prison gates and we are inside the prison. We don't want to make any problems and are afraid for our lives."

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, said the "situation has not yet been contained".

"We have been told by different sources and inmates that the situation is really delicate ... inside the jail. It is has [also] become very tense in the capital," said our correspondent.

Edited by visionary
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

#1501: Yemen's Sanaa Suhayl satellite TV has been carrying the following "breaking news" screen caption: "Al-Mahra: Sheikh Mohsen Yasser, member of the permanent committee, announces his resignation from the General People's Congress, calling on the president to step down and relinquish power to an independent national council."
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http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/201131073622898186.html

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, has promised to put a new constitution to a referendum this year and move the country to a "parliamentary system".

The Yemeni president said on Thursday that the new constitution would guarantee the separation of legislative and executive powers and prepare for the holding of new general elections that would assure an effective parliamentary rule.

"Firstly we will form a new constitution based on the separation of powers. A referendum on this new constitution will be held before the end of this year," he said.

"I'm already sure that this initiative won't be accepted by the opposition, but in order to do the right thing, I am offering this to the people and they will decide," Saleh said.

The president made the promise in a speech to thousands of people at a political rally in the capital Sanaa, a day after two people were killed in fresh unrest.

Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Sanaa, described the pledge as a major concession which could change the political system in Yemen since the embattled president also plans decentralisation of power – giving more say to the provinces.

After the planned new reform, parliament will decide the future of the country rather than the president, our correspondent said.

The opposition has, however, rejected the offer. Its spokesman said the president's offer came too late and it did not meet demands of protesters.

"This initiative is too late. The demands on the street go beyond that and are bigger than that," Mohammed Qahtan, the spokesman, said.

The opposition called for anti-government rallies to continue.

The president has already made a number of concessions to his opponents, but has refused to bow to their central demand that he relinquish power immediately, saying he wanted to see out his term which expires in 2013.

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