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You are in the the 150th diary of the liveblog bearing witness to the 2011 populist uprisings. We stand with our international friends and their courageous struggle for dignity, self-determination and human rights. (see more about the work of our group below)

PLS REC this diary to maximize how many people bear witness. PLS UNREC the previous liveblog diary.

Libya

Obviously, there have been major developments in Libya today. I will add the updates to this section of the liveblog, and any updates to other countries will be down below as usual.

(h/t JustJennifer ) - UN authorises no-fly zone over Libya

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has voted on a resolution authorising a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" - code for military action - to protect civilians.
Ten of the council's 15 members voted in favour of the resolution, while Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil abstained.
No votes were recorded against the resolution on Thursday, which was co-sponsored by France, Britain, Lebanon and the United States.
In Benghazi, the main opposition stronghold, a large crowd watching the vote on an outdoor TV projection burst into celebration as green and red fireworks filled the air, as broadcast live on the Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel.

(h/t JustJennifer) - Gaddafi tells West to stay out of Libya

Muammar Gaddafi has denounced backers of plans for a no-fly zone over his country and urged Libyans to take up arms and prepare to confront a possible invasion by Western powers.

Addressing selected supporters late on Tuesday, Gaddafi called the rebels "rats" and denounced Western nations. "They want Libyan oil," he said.

Key points of the resolution

   * Demands "the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians".
    * Demands that Libyan authorities "take all measures to protect civilians and meet their basic needs, and to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance".
    * Authorises UN member states "to take all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory".
    * Decides "to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians", but says humanitarian flights and flights authorised by the UN and Arab League can take place.
    * Strengthens the arms embargo imposed on February 26 by calling on UN member states "to inspect in their territory, including airports and seaports, and on the high seas, vessels and aircraft bound to or from" Libya if the country has information with "reasonable grounds" to believe the cargo contains banned military items, or that armed mercenaries are being transported.
    * Orders all states to prevent any Libyan owned, operated, or registered aircraft - or any aircraft believed to be carrying prohibited weapons or mercenaries - to take off, land or overfly their territory without prior approval from the UN committee monitoring sanctions.
    * Adds travel bans on the Libyan ambassador to Chad and the governor of Ghat, both directly involved in recruiting mercenaries for the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi.
    * Extends an asset freeze to seven more individuals including three additional Gaddafi children, the defence minister, the director of military intelligence, the director of the external security organisation, and the secretary for utilities.
    * Freezes the assets of five key financial institutions: the Central Bank, the Libyan Investment Authority, the Libyan Foreign Bank, Libyan Africa Investment Portfoilio, and the Libyan National Oil Corporation.
    * Asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish an eight-member panel of experts to help the UN sanctions committee monitor implementation of sanctions against Libya.

(h/t jnhobbs ) -
Egypt Said to Arm Libya Rebels

CAIRO—Egypt's military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington's knowledge, U.S. and Libyan rebel officials said.
The shipments—mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition—appear to be the first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters. Those fighters have been losing ground for days in the face of a steady westward advance by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

(h/t Richard Lyon ) -
Libya: UK forces prepare after UN no-fly zone vote

UK forces are preparing to help enforce a no-fly zone over Libya after the UN backed "all necessary measures", short of an invasion, to protect civilians.

(h/t jnhobbs) -
Canada to send six CF-18s for Libya 'no-fly' mission

Canada will contribute six CF-18 fighter jets to help enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, sources have told CTV News.
"The Canadian government has made the decision late today that Canada will send six CF-18 fighter jets to join the Americans, the British and the French and other countries that will participate in imposing a no-fly zone," CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported Thursday.

(h/t jnhobbs) -
The UN to the Rescue in Libya: Is it too Late?

The United Nations Security Council has just authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and implicitly allowed the United States, France and Britain to bomb military forces and facilities loyal to Muammar Qadddafi.
Aljazeera live is covering the session and is showing enormous, delirious crowds celebrating in downtown Benghazi, which Qaddafi had threatened to occupy earlier on Thursday. They are deploying celebratory fire, which I’d advise them against, since Qaddafi’s forces are near and the more activist elements of NATO likely to intervene on their behalf rather farther away. They may yet need the bullets.

(h/t Richard Lyon ) -
US readying plans to enforce Libya no-fly zone

The Obama administration was readying plans to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya with the help of Arab countries, officials said Thursday as the United Nations Security Council voted to authorize the move.

We can't physically go to these people. International law means it's highly unlikely that the protesters will receive help.What we can do is bear witness and to ask as many people as we can to join us in that. The more public these acts, the more pressure on the government to behave. Please remember to do Twitter and Facebook updates and, if you can, reach out through email to whomever you can. We need all eyes on these events and there are so many around the world, we need people looking everywhere at once: Yeman, Cote d'Ivoire, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Algeria.... a long haul in Egypt and Tunisia.... So many places requires a vast multitude of eyes.

More regional tidbits after the fold....bold section names indicate fresh content...

The liveblog is primarily for witnessing, for other activities see the group stream.

We are in the process of collecting suggested readings for background reference materials in support of the Eyes on Egypt and the Region group. These readings may be either non-fiction or fiction, general to the region or specific to a country or issue. If there are resources which you believe aid our understanding of the events and processes we are witnessing, please either a) post a comment in the Liveblog with the title "Suggested reading:" and a brief description of the reading in the body of the comment, or b) send your suggestions via the dKos internal mailer to angry marmot.

Libyan Doctors for Hospitals in Libya an impressive new aide organization launched by one of our own: StepLeftStepForward.

Please place links and info for intervention ideas (humanitarian and beyond) in comments titled "Intervention". We encourage you to provide information without imploring, disrespecting those who might not pursue the intervention, or engaging long debates about the merits. With uniform content labeling, those interested can readily find them and those who want to produce intervention diaries can gather the data efficiently. Please post the link if you do produce an intervention resource diary. We'll include it in the next updated liveblog. Thank you.

The group is producing a series of diaries that provide background and analysis on the region in general and on individual countries. We hope to provide a context for interpreting current events in the news. The published diaries in the series are:

Eyes on Egypt and the Region Background Resources

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NOTE: We have renamed the liveblog "Witnessing Revolution". What started in Egypt has spread rapidly. It's not clear that it will be limited by geography or ethnicity. So, we wanted a name which states what is happening yet allows us to grow with the movement, wherever that will be. The number sequence will be continuous. The group name will remain the same. Only this particular diary series within the group will have a name change.

GENERAL ANALYSIS

(h/t suejazz) - Quake, wars, unrest, make evacuation big business

With revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, conflict in Libya and Ivory Coast and now an earthquake in Japan, specialist international crisis management, security and evacuation firms are busier than ever.
Major corporations and overstretched foreign ministries have turned to the handful of companies running private 24-hour operations rooms and field teams -- often staffed by ex-military personnel -- to help get people out and safeguard assets.

That ranges from facilitating air tickets and advising on safe passage, protection and refuge options to chartering planes and ships and occasional liaison with military rescue missions.

"It's been frantic," said Tom Frankland, a former British Army tank officer and now operations director for London-based crisis management firm Northcott Global Solutions. "We had Tunisia and Egypt, then Libya was hugely busy -- a mixture of energy and government clients who wanted help with evacuations."

(h/t suejazz)Global stakes of Mideast turmoil

Political turmoil in the Middle East has powerful economic and financial implications, particularly as it increases the risk of stagflation, a lethal combination of slowing growth and sharply rising inflation. Indeed, should stagflation emerge, there is a serious risk of a double-dip recession for a global economy that has barely emerged from its worst crisis in decades.

ALGERIA:

(h/t suejazz) - Algeria gives $100 million in aid to Tunisia

Oil- and gas-rich Algeria has given Tunisia $100 million in financial aid to support its North African neighbor struggling toward democracy after an uprising ousted the country's longtime autocratic leader.
Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi announced the aid Wednesday, a day after returning from his first trip abroad, to Algeria and Morocco. The official TAP news agency carried the news.
Of the funds, $10 million is in outright aid, $40 million is a loan with a 1 percent interest rate and $50 million is a deposit with no interest in Tunisia's Central Bank.

Bahrain

(h/t suejazz ) - Bahrain continues crackdown on opposition

Reporting from Manama, Bahrain—
Bahrain's security forces arrested at least half a dozen opposition leaders Thursday and surrounded Shiite Muslim neighborhoods on the second day of crackdown that, at least for now, appeared to have left the regime's opponents frightened and divided about how to respond.
Opposition activists said the most prominent of those arrested were Hassan Mushaima, a hard-line Shiite leader of the Haq movement who had only weeks ago returned from London exile, and Abdul Jalil Singace, another Haq leader who had been released less than a month ago. Haq has been one of the most prominent opposition groups demanding the elimination of Bahrain's Sunni monarchy.
The arrests came only hours after police and soldiers swept through Manama's Pearl Square in a violent operation to oust protesters who had occupied the traffic circle for the last month demanding far-reaching changes in the political system, in which a Sunni Muslim monarchy governs a Shiite Muslim-majority nation.

(h/t suejazz ) - Bahrain Pulls a Qaddafi

It is heartbreaking to see a renegade country like Libya shoot pro-democracy protesters. But it’s even more wrenching to watch America’s ally, Bahrain, pull a Qaddafi and use American tanks, guns and tear gas as well as foreign mercenaries to crush a pro-democracy movement — as we stay mostly silent. In Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve seen corpses of protesters who were shot at close range, seen a teenage girl writhing in pain after being clubbed, seen ambulance workers beaten for trying to rescue protesters — and in the last few days it has gotten much worse. Saudi Arabia, in a slap at American efforts to defuse the crisis, dispatched troops to Bahrain to help crush the protesters. The result is five more deaths, by the count of The Associated Press.

(h/t suejazz ) - Bahrain crackdown dashes U.S. hopes for negotiated solution

The violent crackdown on protesters in Bahrain sounded a virtual death knell to the Obama administration's efforts to negotiate an end to the political crisis in the strategically vital Persian Gulf.

In their efforts to maintain regional stability and key U.S. relationships, Obama administration officials have been urging Bahrain's Sunni king and Shiite-led protesters to negotiate a power-sharing deal that would give the impoverished Shiite majority a greater political voice. But a bloody crackdown Wednesday appears to have placed a negotiated deal far out of reach, and it may further inflame sectarian tensions in the region.

Obama administration officials, shaken by the bloody confrontations in the island nation, hurried to try to distance themselves from the violence. Yet they also showed their interest in trying to preserve their relationship with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, valued partners on security issues and energy.

(h/t suejazz ) - Bahrain Arrests Opposition Leaders Over ‘Foreign’ Ties; Iran Pulls Envoy

Bahraini security forces arrested opposition leaders and accused them of having ties with foreign countries, a day after Iran withdrew its ambassador to protest the growing crackdown against mostly Shiite demonstrators.
Those arrested included Hassan Mushaima, a leader of the Shiite Haq movement, and Ebrahim Sharif, head of the opposition National Democratic Action Society, according to a statement today from al-Wefaq, the largest Shiite opposition party. Al- Wefaq said six people were arrested; the state-run Bahrain news agency gave no number.

COTE D'IVOIRE:

(h/t suejazz ) - Ivory Coast's Ouattara says rebels are legitimate army

Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara broke three months of silence on the gunmen fighting to defend his claim to the presidency on Thursday, saying he officially recognised the former rebels as the legitimate army.
A dispute between Ouattara, whose claim has U.N. backing, and incumbent Laurent Gbagbo over a November election has plunged Ivory Coast into conflict, escalating in the past three weeks into heavy fighting in the main commercial city Abidjan.

(h/t suejazz ) - Gbagbo to Address Ivory Coast on AU Call to Cede Power

Ivory Coast's incumbent president is expected to address the nation, possibly as early as Thursday, about African Union demands that he hand over power to the internationally-recognized winner of November's presidential election. The country's political crisis has driven more than 75,000 refugees across the border into Liberia.
United Nations officials and regional diplomats in Abidjan say incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo is expected to make a televised response to African Union calls for him to leave office.

The African Union last week endorsed former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara as Ivory Coast's duly-elected president, joining the Economic Community of West African States, the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States in calling on Gbagbo to step down.

Djibouti

(h/t suejazz) - Election observers quit Djibouti

An international election observation team funded by the US is pulling out of Djibouti after being declared “illegal” less than a month before the country goes to polls boycotted by the opposition.
Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, foreign minister, told the Financial Times the group had failed to maintain neutrality and that the country was seeking to avert scenes of “chaos and upheaval” similar to those across the Middle East and north Africa.
The tiny port state, ruled by the same party since independence in 1977, has faced a series of opposition rallies in past weeks as many have sought to imitate a wave of democratic fervour that has swept north Africa. At least one person was killed during protests in which police lobbed teargas at rock-throwing demonstrators on February 18.
Mr Ali Youssouf said the US group had several times exhibited “very very concerning behaviour”, offering food and water to demonstrators, carrying participants in their cars. On March 2, Djiboutian authorities declared the US group, Democracy International, “illegal”.

EGYPT
Egypt has a referendum on some constitutional changes this weekend. To learn more about what the people will be voting on and what the ramifications are, please read Richard Lyon's diary, Meanwhile Back in Egypt

IRAN:
(h/t UnaSpenser ) - Demand for Change in Middle East Not Lost on Opposition in Iran

But these new protests are causing Iran's leaders new problems, say analysts here in Washington: How can Iranian authorities praise protests elsewhere in the Middle East, tying them to Iran's own Islamic Revolution in 1979, and then show no mercy to opposition groups in their own country?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently noted what she called the hypocrisy of the Iranian government.

IRAQ:
(h/t UnaSpenser ) - Maliki uses protests as excuse to consolidate power

Maliki formed his government for a second term in late December, bringing Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions into a coalition after nine months of wrangling following the election.

From the outset, he said he was not satisfied with the cabinet, complaining he was forced to accept some ministers to win the blessing of parliament.
The protests effectively give him an opportunity to revisit the coalition agreement, blame ministers for Iraq's woes, and replace them.

JORDAN
(h/t suejazz ) - Loyalty and poverty: Jordan’s uprising stagnates

Overlooking Amman's concrete skyline is the Citadel, where lie the silent remains of Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad structures. The murmur of Jordan's ancient and chequered history resonates round these crumbling edifices, reminding the country that even the greatest powers can topple into the sun-baked dust.
Jordan is not at breaking point yet, but of all the protests sweeping across the Middle East, those in Jordan have been going on for the longest. Indeed, marches through Amman's windy streets began on 14 January and show no sign of ceasing even now, in mid-March, due to the slow adoption of reforms.
Jordan's is an interesting case, because it is one of just two monarchies in the region which has experienced sustained protests (the other country being Bahrain). Conversely, it is also one of the highest-scoring Arab nations on the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2010 Democracy Index, with a rating of 3.74 – more than the seemingly stable regimes of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

KUWAIT:

(h/t suejazz ) - Kuwait says navy heading to Bahrain soon: ambassador

Kuwait's navy plans to head to Bahrain soon to protect the Gulf Arab island nation's waters, Kuwait's ambassador to Bahrain was quoted as saying on Thursday.
On Monday, Bahrain asked for support under a Gulf defense pact after weeks of protests by pro-democracy activists, mainly majority Shi'ites who complain of discrimination by a Sunni monarchy.

The ambassador, Sheikh Azzam al-Sabah, was cited by Kuwait's Watan news service, which gave no further details. Kuwaiti officials could immediately not be reached for comment.

LEBANON

(h/t suejazz ) - Lebanon Appeals for Libya No-Fly Zone, Vows Arab Participation

Lebanon’s ambassador to the United Nations said he would appeal today to the Security Council to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and that Arab nations would play a “significant” role in its enforcement.
“I am sure you heard Saif al-Islam Qaddafi’s statement that in two days they will be in Benghazi,” Ambassador Nawaf Salam told reporters before the council met. “I hope the Security Council will prove him wrong on two counts: that there will be no rivers of blood and that the council will act swiftly and have a no-fly zone and other measures to protect the civilian population.”
Qaddafi, son of Libya’s leader Muammar Qaddafi, said on state-run television that government forces were closing on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. “By God, victory is coming,” he said.
Salam said a “number” of Arab countries are committed to help enforce the no-fly zone and that “significant participation has been confirmed from the highest political authorities.” He declined to be more specific.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today in Cairo that Arab participation was critical. “The Arab League statement, their very courageous stance, suggests that they know that they have to step up and lead and participate in any action,” Clinton said in an interview on CBS News.

MAURITANIA:
(h/t mali muso) - Mauritania protesters want better salaries, lower food prices

Hundreds of people took to the streets after Friday afternoon prayers, demanding more jobs and decent food prices. What was initially meant as a peaceful protest, ended with protesters throwing stones at security forces and setting fire to car tires.
...
Protesters distributed bottles of fresh water to security forces surrounding them, while the authorities continued to deny any access to Blokat square. Demonstrators prevented Mauritania TV from covering the protests, fearing the station would use the footage for political propaganda. Protesters earlier complained about police women pretending to be journalists. The videos were reportedly used by intelligent forces to identify youth leaders and facilitate future arrests.

MOROCCO:
(h/t UnaSpenser) - Dozens of activists injured in Moroccan protests

DOZENS OF people were injured and more than 100 arrested in Morocco after demonstrations by protesters unconvinced by King Mohammed’s concessions on political reform.

Riot police used truncheons to break up a rally in Morocco’s biggest city, Casablanca, on Sunday – the latest in a series of weekly protests in the country over the past month.

Reports suggested dozens were injured when police tried to storm the Unified Socialist Party headquarters, where protesters had sought refuge during clashes.
...

Oussama El-Khifli, one of the organisers of the Moroccan protest movement, told Le Monde yesterday police charged the crowd as they began a sit-in demonstration, arresting 123 people. “We will continue to protest for radical change,” he said, predicting a “surprise” for next weekend when a further march is planned.

OMAN

(h/t suejazz) - Omani protesters block airport

Despite a series of concessions offered by the country's rulers, about 500 security guards employed by private companies staged a protest rally on Wednesday at the Muscat airport road to demand higher wages.

"Our objective of this protest is for our wages to be raised," said one of the protesters.

The protest rally caused many travelers to miss their flights. Oman's police intervened to disperse the crowd but there were no reports of violence.

The protest by the private security guards came a day after several hundred state petroleum workers rallied outside of the agency's headquarters in Muscat, demanding higher wages.

Oman has been the scene of sporadic demonstrations demanding jobs, political openness, and an end to corruption over the past weeks.

On Sunday, Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed issued a decree granting lawmaking powers to councils that previously had only advisory roles. At present, only the sultan and his cabinet can pass laws.

He also ordered an increase in state pension benefits and payments for families receiving social security in an attempt to quell the protests.

(h/t suejazz ) - A bold blueprint for Oman reforms

Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed seldom stops surprising as befits an original revolutionary who ushered in his share of fundamental changes during the past four decades. In less than two weeks, however, the Omani ruler surprised anew as he issued no fewer that 28 royal decrees, which literally shocked a vast majority of his subjects.
Observers unaccustomed to tectonic shifts marvelled at the speed of these changes and, more important, at their substantive features. The most recent, which empowered the sultanate's two advisory councils — the elected Majlis Al Shura and the appointed Majlis Al Dawla — with legislative authority, is historic. What will Oman look like after these latest reforms?
A few days after demonstrations in Sohar surprised everyone, Sultan Qaboos made modest changes, replacing several ministers and undersecretaries, advisers, and Majlis Al Dawla members. Against a wave of protests, and instead of delaying, he dismissed key aides, espoused freedom of speech by tolerating dissent, supported calls for accountability, and agreed to share power.
The sum total of these incredible transformations shook the political establishment even if they reaffirmed the ruler's bold outlook.

PALESTINE
(h/t Flyswatterbanjo ) - Thousands rally in Gaza, West Bank for 'unity'

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Tens of thousands of Palestinians were rallying in Gaza City and Ramallah on Tuesday in a mass show of strength to call for end to the division in their national movement.
The biggest gathering was in Gaza City, where officials from the Hamas-run interior ministry said vast crowds had packed into the city's Square of the Unknown Soldier.
"There are tens of thousands of people already there, and there may be more on the way," interior ministry spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein told AFP.
In Ramallah, which lies some 90 km (55 miles) further north, around 3,000 people had gathered in Manara Square, with hundreds more pouring in all the time, an AFP correspondent said.
The rallies, called by the March 15 protest movement and planned through Facebook by young activists demanding an end to the division between the rival Fatah and Hamas factions, are taking place simultaneously in the two cities.

QATAR:
(h/t UnaSpenser ) - Al Jazeera journalist killed in Libyan ambush

Al Jaber is the first journalist to be killed during the Libyan uprising generated a wave of spontaneous revulsion and anger. Outside the courthouse, the epicentre of the anti-Qadhafi revolt. Thousands gathered to mourn the loss of an intrepid journalist, and to reinforce their resolve to unseat the regime of the Libyan leader, Muammar Qadhafi.

“Here and now, Libyan and Qatari blood is mixed for the sake of freedom. Our condolences go to the Qatari people and the Al Jazeera channel” read a prominent banner held aloft by several young protesters. As the sun dipped over the Mediterranean and the lights outside the courthouse came alive, the Qatari national flag was raised from the top of the building.

Wadah Khanfar, Director-General of the Qatar based Al Jazeera channel said the network would not be silenced. The killing of Al Jaber, he said, came after Mr. Qadhafi launched an “unprecedented campaign” against the channel.

(h/t UnaSpenser) - Monday calender the week ahead
WEDNESDAY
MARCH 16
- An anti-government protest organized on Facebook is scheduled in Doha, Qatar.

SAUDI ARABIA:
(h/t UnaSpenser ) - We won't trouble Saudi's tyrants with calls to reform while we crave their oil

Did you hear it? The clamour from western governments for democracy in Saudi Arabia? The howls of outrage from the White House and No 10 about the shootings on Thursday, the suppression of protests on Friday, the arrival of Saudi troops in Bahrain on Monday? No? Nor did I.

Did we miss it, or do they believe that change is less necessary in Saudi Arabia than it is in Libya? If so, on what grounds? The democracy index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit places Libya 158th out of 167, and Saudi Arabia 160th. At least in Libya, for all the cruelties of that regime, women are not officially treated as lepers were in medieval Europe.
Last week, while explaining why protests in the kingdom is unnecessary, the foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, charmingly promised to "cut off the fingers of those who try to interfere in our internal matters". In other parts of the world this threat would have been figurative; he probably meant it. If mass protests have not yet materialised in Saudi Arabia, it's because the monarchy maintains a regime of terror, enforced with the help of torture, mutilation and execution.

Yet our leaders are even more at ease among the Saudi autocracy than they were in the court of Colonel Gaddafi. The number of export licences granted by the UK government for arms sales to the kingdom has risen roughly fourfold since 2003. The last government was so determined to preserve its special relationship with the Saudi despots that it derailed British justice by forcing the Serious Fraud Office to drop its inquiry into corruption in the al-Yamamah deals.

SYRIA:
(h/t suejazz ) - 32 protesters held for hurting Syria's 'image'

Syria on Thursday charged 32 demonstrators with attacking the reputation of the state a day after they joined a rally calling for the release of political prisoners, a rights group said.
The 32 protesters, including rights activist Suhair Atassi, were detained on Wednesday at a Damascus rally organised by the relatives of political prisoners to petition for their release.
"The Syrian authorities on Thursday charged 32 activists who took part in protest outside the interior ministry with attacking the reputation of the state, provoking racism and sectarianism and damaging relations between Syrians," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The rights group listed the names of 25 detained demonstrators, including Atassi and four relatives of opposition figure Kamal Labwani, who is serving a 12-year jail sentence.
It said security services broke up the sit-in "by force."
Syrian rights groups have repeatedly urged the authorities to free prisoners of conscience and to stop arbitrary detention of political opponents and civil society activists.
They have also called for a law on political parties "to enable citizens to exercise their right to participate in managing the affairs of the country."

(h/t suejazz ) - Syria Should Release All Detained Protesters, Human Rights Watch Says

Syria should immediately release all those arrested yesterday by security officers who “violently dispersed a peaceful protest calling for the release of political activists,” Human Rights Watch said.
Syrian authorities detained at least 34 people as 150 protesters demonstrated outside the Interior Ministry and urged the government in Damascus to release their imprisoned or detained relatives, the New York-based organization said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday. Human Rights Watch said it was able to verify independently the detention of 18 people.
“President Bashar al-Assad’s recent calls for reform ring hollow when his security services still beat and detain anyone who actually dares to call for reform,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “Instead of beating families of Syria’s political prisoners, President al-Assad should be reuniting them with their loved ones.”

TUNISIA:
(h/t suejazz ) -

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged to help Tunisia with its uneasy transition to democracy as she met with the country's new leaders for the first time Thursday.
Some 100 demonstrators protested in the Tunisian capital Tunis against Clinton, the highest-ranking US official to visit since long- time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled by mass protests two months ago.
'We don't want outside interference,' protesters wrote on banners.
Clinton surveyed the country's political landscape and discussed means of economic assistance that the US could offer during Tunisia's transition. The fate of 100,000 refugees who have crossed the border from Libya, where a brutal crackdown against anti-government rebels continues, was also a topic of discussion.
'The Tunisian people have made history once again. You have shown the world that peaceful change is possible,' Clinton said in a press conference with Tunisian Foreign Minister Mouldi Kefi. 'Now we will stand with you as you make the transition to democracy and prosperity and a better future.'

UAE
(h/t suejazz ) - UAE to hold second ever election in September

The United Arab Emirates will hold the second election in its history in September to pick half the members of its advisory national assembly, the state news agency WAM said on Wednesday.
The move to set the election for September 24 comes as anti-government protests rock the Arab world, including the wealthy Gulf Arab region.

The world's No. 3 oil exporter last month tripled the number of voters handpicked by its rulers to take part in electing half of the 40-member Federal National Council (FNC), an advisory body with limited parliamentary powers, in a cautious step towards political reform in the Gulf state.

The announcement comes as Shi'ite protesters in nearby Bahrain demand a constitutional monarchy, with some hardliners calling for abolishing the monarchy to set up a republic.

Last week, a group of UAE intellectuals petitioned their rulers for free elections, in a sign some Emiratis share growing Arab demands for a greater say in government.

(h/t suejazz ) - UAE relief ships arrive in Benghazi

Two cargo ships carrying 700 tonnes of humanitarian assistance Wednesday arrived at Bengazi seaport for help to the people in Libya, the country which is witnessing massive anti-government protests.
As part of a joint UAE-Turkey relief programme, the ships, which set sail from the Turkish seaport of Mersin, carried about $4 million worth of humanitarian aid, including medicines, food staples, blankets and potable water.

UAE Ambassador to Libya Sultan Rashid Al Kitoub said the assistance was dispatched after instructions by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for rushing urgent relief to the people affected by ongoing political crisis in Libya.

'The UAE has been among the first responders to the humanitarian appeal to Libya,' he added.

YEMEN
(h/t UnaSpenser) -Yemen deports 4 Western journalists

Authorities in Yemen have deported four Western journalists amid anti-government protests.

Police came to a house the four journalists shared in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, and took them to an immigration office, where they were told they would be deported, according to two of the journalists, Oliver Holmes, a British freelancer, and Haley Sweetland Edwards, an American freelance journalist.
....
Human Rights Watch has accused Yemen's government of harassing, attacking, or allowing attacks on 31 journalists to stop them from 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," said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the group's Middle East and North Africa division.

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Our Egyptian brethren articulated what people around the region are fighting for, though variations to the theme may exist from country to country. banner held by protesters and translated to English:

1 The departure of Mubarak
2 An end to the current Parliament
3 An end of the state of emergency
4 The creation of a national united government
5 A parliament elected by the people to modify the constitution and run the presidential elections
6 Put those responsible for the killings on trial
7 Put those responsible for stealing the country's money and other acts of corruption on trial

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Resources:

Note: The Mothership Diary is the place to go for a complete list of resources.

Al Jazeera English - Watch Live (the Youtube link below should work for Mac users unable to load this.)

Al Jazeera live also available on
Dish Network channel 9410
DirecTV: Channel 375 Link

Al Jazeera on Facebook:
http: //www.facebook.com/aljazeera

Al Jazeera Live on YouTube
English Stream http://www.youtube.com/...
Arabic Stream http://www.youtube.com/...

BBC Middle East reporting
BBC Middle East and Arab Unrest

WorldWideTahrir{NEW} : Worldwide protests being organized to coincide with the upcoming ones in Egypt.
bicycle Hussein paladin - Why Iran 1979 Went to the Islamists and This One Won't

People to follow on twitter: - please suggest people for specific countries. Thank you!

@ArabRevolution - Region
@Dima_Khatib - Region

@JNovak_Yemen - Yemen
@WomanfromYemen - Yemen

@Gheblawi - Libya
@ShababLibya - Libya
@feb17voices - Libya
@DrsForLibya - Libya
@libyanexpat - Libya

@lissnp - Iran
@prsianbanoo - Iran

@sandmonkey - Egypt
@JRamyRaoof - Egypt
@Elazul - Egypt
@Ssirgany - Egypt
@sharifkouddous
@monasosh
@ioerror
@ElBaradei
@SultanAlQassemi
@evanchill
@glcarlstrom
@nolanjazeera
@3arabawy
@shadihamid
@bencnn
@arabist
@speaktotweet: Egyptian Voice Tweets on Twitter

Previous Child Diaries:

Egypt and the Region Liveblog Archive by unaspenser


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