There is unrest all across the Middle East, including Bahrain, Iran, Yemen and Algeria. The video below is an unconfirmed, a terrifying encounter with riot police going after Bahrainian protesters, guns blazing. Rubber bullets? Don’t know. The email below says the riot police are not Bahrainians. Don’t miss the wonderful piece of technology linked below – a map of protests in Iran, each place with a video, and you will see live tweets as well – on the basiji (a paramilitary group organized by order from Ayatollah Khomeini). And here’s a question: what’s going on in Tunisia. Anyone know? A report below says there is violence and women are being raped. One more thing below: a speech by Mubarak to the parliament – be sure you catch the quote. On going updates here as available.
BAHRAIN: From a protester’s email:
First of all, the protests in Bahrain were never about changing a regime. They are a demand by the majority of the people of Bahrain for human rights which have been eroding swiftly since just before the elections in October last year and continue to decline. All the progress made by the government has been reversed and then some.
The riot police, almost entirely non-Bahraini, have been preparing for today’s protests since they were announced.
Have to ask if the riot police are not Bahrainians, who are they? Follow the thread at Memorandum – Young Protesters Clash with Police in Bahrain.
IRAN: One Iranian is reported dead in Iran today, three injured near Tohid Square in Tehran, with 250 arrested at 5 pm Tehran time.
The U.S. is demanding nothing from Egypt in return for our foreign aid – not so in the U.K.:
More from Hague’s statement to the Parliament during foreign affairs questions just now.
On the disturbances in Yemen, Hague [UK foreign minister] said: “There is a serious threat to our national security from the operation of al-Qaida in Yemen,” adding that the UK’s Department for International Development contributed £50m in aid for education, health care and microfinance initiatives.
On Egypt, Hague reiterated the UK government’s position of calling for the release of political detainees and a firm timetable for elections to take place within six months.
The UK and the EU have received a “formal” request to freeze assets belonging to the Mubarak regime.
Take a look at this intriguing map of protests in Iran, each with a link to a video. The website’s name: OneMillionNeda, (thanks to UK Guardian.) A tweet coming through just now says: “also we beat basijis back today. Two were beaten very bad.” Another says “thousand still remain on Tehran’s streets. Many are calling for permanent siege of squares like Egypt.” Another: “What has happened to our oil money It has been spent on basiji.”
ALGERIA: 400 arrested in the Algerian capitol of city of Algiers yesterday as protesters defied a government ban on demonstrations. Journalists were among those detained. Police are said to number 26,000.
Under Algeria’s long-standing state of emergency in place since 1992, protests are banned in Algiers, but repeated government warnings for people to stay away fell on deaf ears. Human rights activists say more than 400 people were arrested.
“This demonstration is a success because it’s been 10 years that people haven’t been able to march in Algiers and there’s a sort of psychological barrier,” said Ali Rachedi, the former head of the Front of Socialist Forces party. “The fear is gone…”
“We’re going to continue to demonstrate and to defy the authorities until they fall,” Sadi vowed. [Sadi is head of Rally for Culture and Democracy.]
Fadil Bamaleh, Secretary General of the Coordination for Democratic Change in Algeria (CDCA), told Gulf News the ban on demonstrations in Algiers imposed by the government two weeks ago is illegal and the CDCA has pledged not to acknowledge it.
TUNISIA: Italy declares state of emergency as 5,000 Tunisian immigrants flood their border.
Coastguard officials said that in just one 12-hour period 977 had arrived, with many more boats seen on radar screens approaching from north Africa.
The vessels carrying the illegal immigrants had all arrived on the tiny volcanic island of Lampedusa, which is just 60 miles from the Tunisian coast and the lone accommodation centre was struggling to cope…
One woman trying to flee to Italy said: “The situation in Tunisia is still very bad. Prices are going up, there is unrest and there is still violence. Women are being raped and people are being robbed.”
So far, no one seems to be in charge in Tunesia. The former dictator and his wife, known as Lady McBeth have fled with much of the country’s wealth. Interpol has arrest warrants out for the couple.
The interim government that is meant to restore order and prepare for presidential elections within six months is fragile. Most tourist hotels are empty. Exports, especially of textile and automotive supplies, have been badly hit. If workers at factories and farms find they have lost wages because of the disruptions, then the grievances that fuelled the uprising in the first place could resurface.
Already the main trade-union federation, which has emerged as an influential political force in the absence of strong opposition parties, has called for strikes and wage increases in certain sectors. But many businessmen are afraid that the union, whose representatives quit the unity government after only a day, is exploiting the febrile situation. General strikes may be called in several cities.
The New York Times says Egyptian protesters took a tip from Tunisians to put vinegar or onion under their scarves for tear gas.
Young Egyptian and Tunisian activists brainstormed on the use of technology to evade surveillance, commiserated about torture and traded practical tips on how to stand up to rubber bullets and organize barricades.
They fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons. Breaking free from older veterans of the Arab political opposition, they relied on tactics of nonviolent resistance channeled from an American scholar through a Serbian youth brigade — but also on marketing tactics borrowed from Silicon Valley. Follow this thread of the Egyptian-Tunisian connection at Memorandum – see A Tunisian-Egyptian Link that shook Arab History.
AZERBAIJAN: Azerbaijan seems close on the heels of uprisings across the Muslim dominated countries.
EQYPT: The Other McCain has the latest on the dissolving of the Egyptian Parliament, and POWIP has some quotes of an alleged speech by Mubarak to the Egyptian parliament, from a letter…or a “trusted source from Israel.” Something about “crawl[ing] like a dog,” via Gateway Pundit, via RadioPatriot Andrea Shea King.
Violent Clash in Bahrain with Riot Police (video)