Weekly Roundup 6/5

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Saleh Leaves Yemen- Change Square Celebration (by Amel Ahmed)

Yemen
– Violence continued to rage in Sana’a this week, but in Tiaz the government was also cracking down hard. At least 50 people were killed, and a number of them were burned alive in their tents in Freedom Square.

– Fighting continued despite a ceasefire between Saleh’s forces and Tribal leaders. Street battles, which are still mainly between President Saleh, and Sadiq Al-Ahmar, claimed 41 lives on Wednesday.

– On Monday the conflict extended south when protests erupted in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province. It was later reported that 200 armed Islamists, some of whom are members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), took over the town.

In the wake of new violence, and the collapse of the GCC deal, President Obama dispatched top national security advisor John Brennan to the Gulf in order to ratchet up pressure on Saleh.

– According to the country director of the UN’s World Food Program, the unrest in Yemen is aggravating food insecurity.

General Ali Moshen’s forces, which have been guarding protestors in Change Square since his defection, joined in the battle against Saleh on the side of the Hashid tribesmen. 

On Friday it was reported that the Prime Minster and six other top officials were injured during shelling of the presidential palace. The Yemeni government later revealed that President Saleh was wounded as well.

– Speculation that the President had left the country ran wild, especially when his address to the nation was only an audio recording with no video. The government finally admitted that Saleh, who had been badly burned, was moved to Saudi Arabia (Riyadh) to receive medical treatment. There are unconfirmed reports that he took 35 members of his family with him. Power was handed over to Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

– Saleh is currently recovering from surgery and doctors say he can return to Yemen in two weeks. It is unclear if this will actually happen.

Syria
– The Al Jazeera blog has a timeline of the Syrian Revolution, which technically started March 15.

– Last Sunday the crackdown continued, with seven reported killed in helicopter attacks in Rastan and Talbiseh.

– On Monday came the funeral of Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, the 13-year old boy tortured to death while in prison. His death has helped reinvigorate the movement.

– The UN condemned the Syrian crackdown as “shocking,” and called on Assad to allow fact-finding missions. Later in the week US Secretary of State Clinton said that the international community needed to be more united on the issues of Syria.

– Interesting article about what dissidents inside Syria are up against: “Syria’s Embattled Dissidents Grapple with Government Hackers, Wiretappers and Imposters

– In a move aimed to appease protestors, President Assad offered a vague “general amnesty” to political prisoners. The opposition dismissed this and a few other smaller concessions as yet another tactic of distraction, insisting that Assad must go.

– Despite Assad’s conciliatory tone, the crack down continued. On Wednesday 41 citizens, including a four year-old girls, were killed in Rastan when the city was shelled.

–  The next day Secretary Clinton upped the stakes by saying that Assad’s legitimacy has “nearly run out.” Fareed Zakaria says that Obama is “being too soft on Syria

– On Friday Internet was cut off but protests still reached their largest levels yet.  50,000 people marched and to least 27 were killed in Hama alone on a day that was called “Children Martyr’s Friday” and dedicated to the some 30 children who have been killed by Syrian forces.

– Here is a really great map showing all the cities where protests were reported on Friday.

– The other major event this week was the “Syria Conference for Change” in Antalya, Turkey, a meeting of a few hundred opposition members with the goal of forming an alternative to the Assad regime. Syria comment has pretty good coverage of Days 1 and 2, and Mideast Reports posted the Final Declaration.

Egypt
– Former Egyptian Finance Minister Yousef Boutros Ghali was sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison on charges of corruption and abuse of position.

– The Egyptian Foreign Minister has called for comprehensive reform within Syria as the only way for that country to move forward.

– The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, has been blocked by Hamas, citing delays in Egyptian administration of the border crossing and an unannounced closing on Saturday.

– Seeking to cover budget shortfalls, Egypt secures $3 billion deal from the International Monetary Fund.

Libya
– Human Right Watch accused Libyan rebels of arbitrary arrest and torture.

– Brief explanation of the ongoing battle in Libya, courtesy of CNN.

Renewed airstrikes pounded Ghadafi’s forces in Tripoli on Saturday, while the use of helicopters in air strikes has led to concerns of mission creep towards a potential ground intervention by NATO forces, particularly from Russia.

– While Libya’s oil minister had confirmed his defection from the country, Ghadafi’s government has confirmed that Libya will still send a representative to OPEC’s annual meeting on June 8th.

Morocco
– Thousands poured into the streets of Rabat on Saturday, demanding an end to government crackdowns on peaceful protests.

Bahrain
– Following the lifting of emergency law in Bahrain two days ago, protests have renewed, but are coming under swift crackdown by the Bahraini government.

– Crown Prince Salman is set to visit Washington in upcoming days.

Gulf
– Thousands of protestors in Kuwait emonstrated on Saturday, seeking the removal of the current prime minister

Israel/Palestine
– In a reprise of events surrounding Nakba Day a few weeks ago, hundred protestors advanced on Saturday against the Syrian-Israeli border to mark the “Day of Defeat”, the close of the 1967 war. Several deaths were reported from Israeli fire.

This entry was posted in Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Libya, Other, Palestine, Syria, Yemen. Bookmark the permalink.

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