A summary of the latest developments in the Arab world, as instability and anti-government protests inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia spread in the region.
Security forces fire at mourners in the eastern city of Benghazi, killing at least 15 and wounding scores. The mourners had gathered for the funeral of 35 anti-government protesters killed the day before. Benghazi is Libya’s second-largest city and a focal point of the unrest that erupted earlier in the week. Government forces also wipe out a protest encampment and clamp down on internet services.
Libya is oil-rich, but an estimated one-third of its people live in poverty. The protesters demand the resignation of Moammar Gadhafi, who has ruled for 42 years. Gadhafi has clamped down, but has also promised to replace some government administrators to defuse anger.
Thousands of singing and dancing protesters return to the capital’s central square after Bahrain’s leaders withdraw tanks and riot police following a bloody crackdown a day earlier that left 50 injured.
The royal family appears to be backing away from further confrontation after international pressure from the West.
The protesters want the ruling Sunni Muslim monarchy, a key US ally, to give up its control over top government posts and all critical decisions. Shiite Muslims make up 70 per cent of Bahrain’s 500,000 citizens but say they face systematic discrimination and poverty and are effectively blocked from key roles in public service and the military.
Thousands of anti-government protesters march in the capital of Sanaa. Riot police kill one protester and injure five on the 10th day of unrest in Yemen, a key US ally. The country’s leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, blames the unrest on a “foreign plot”.
Protesters demand the resignation of Saleh, who has ruled the Arab world’s poorest nation for 32 years. The main grievances are poverty and corruption. Saleh’s promises not to run for re-election in 2013 or to set up his son as an heir have failed to quell the anger.
Several thousand people march in the Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah to protest the shooting deaths of two anti-government protesters earlier in the week. The protests were directed against Massoud Barzani, president of the three provinces that make up the autonomous Kurdistan region. In Iraq’s capital of Baghdad, hundreds of orphans and widows rally to call on the government to take care of them.
The uprisings sweeping the Middle East have galvanized many in Iraq, one of the rare democracies in the region, to demand better services from their leaders
Some 300 people march peacefully in Muscat, the capital of a Gulf nation with close military ties to the United States. They demand political reform, including the resignation of several government ministers, but pledge their loyalty to the hereditary monarch, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. Marchers also protest corruption and social inequality. Police don’t intervene.
Algerian police thwart a rally by thousands of pro-democracy supporters in the capital Algiers, breaking up the crowd into isolated groups to keep them from marching. An opposition lawmaker is hospitalised with a head injury after he is clubbed by police. The march comes a week after a similar protest brought thousands of protesters and riot police into the streets.
Protesters seek sweeping political reform, including the ouster of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and an end to the state of emergency imposed in 1992 to put down an Islamic insurgency. Critics complain of massive corruption, high unemployment and social inequality.
A moderate Islamic party outlawed for 15 years is granted official recognition by an Egyptian court in a sign of increasing political openness after the fall of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak last week.
Egypt’s military-led transition government has promised to lead the country to democracy in several months’ time.