It seems that the recent events in Egypt have been underestimated in their importance in the rise of an unprecedent wave of people power in the middle east and Africa. Now country after country, previously safe havens for repressive regimes, are suddenly finding that their people are saying that ‘enough is enough’.
Here is a summary of events taking place right now in the region which it seems are destined to cause fundamental changes to how countries there are governed.
Libya – protesters in Benghazi are demanding that a human rights lawyer and opponent of the dictatorial regime of Muammar Gaddafi, be released. In January of this year, Libyans also angry at widespread corruption in the country had mounted protests in Darnah, Benghazi, Bani Walid and other cities in Libya. They had also stormed and occupied government facilities. The riots then had been quelled by the government responding with a $24 billion investment fund for housing and development.
However, for today, A “Day of Rage” has been planned in Libya and by Libyans in exile and the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition announced that all ” groups opposed to Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya and in exile should protest against Gaddafi today in memory of demonstrations in Benghazi on 17 February 2006 which had been mainly against Gaddafi’s rule. In early February, in anticipation of the protests, Gaddafi, at a meeting with Libyan political activists, journalists, and media personnel, warned that they would be punished for distubances in Libya.
Iran – Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB has reported violent confrontations between the supporters of the government and protesters in Tehran. According to Reuters, IRIB said: “Students and the people attending the funeral ceremony of the martyred student Sanee Zhaleh have clashed with a limited number of people apparently linked to the sedition movement and forced them out by chanting slogans of death to hypocrites” . Zhaleh was killed during an opposition protest on Monday which was reputedly the act of the state security forcres. Security forces are using teargas, pepper spray and batons against protesters and around 1,500 have been arrested so far.
Bahrain – King Hamad attempted to placate protesters by his promise to look into the killings of opposition protesters on Monday. Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima and Fadhel Matrook were both shot when security forces fired indiscriminately at protesting crowds. Previously, there were large demonstrations by Bangladeshis in the county calling for an end to human rights abuses.
The Guardian reports that US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley has expressed concern about events in Bahrain. In a statement last night, he said: The United States is very concerned by recent violence surrounding protests in Bahrain. We have received confirmation that two protesters in Bahrain were recently killed, and offer our condolences to the families and friends of the two individuals who lost their lives. The United States welcomes the government of Bahrain’s statements that it will investigate these deaths, and that it will take legal action against any unjustified use of force by Bahraini security forces. We urge that it follow through on these statements as quickly as possible. We also call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.
Yemen – protesters are demanding the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and this has been going on for the past five days in the capital Sana’a. Yesterday, there were clashes between pro-government supporters and the protesters.
Morocco – protest marches are planned for Sunday 20 February and it is reported that more than ten thousand people will be on the streets. The protesters are planning to call for dramatic constitutional reform in the kingdom and real democracy. They are also looking to ask for the current Moroccan government to leave office so that a caretaker government can prepare a new constitution and set up free and fair elections.
Jordan – in recent events, thousands of Jordanian are on the streets asking for the country’s prime minister to leave office and for the government to take drastic action to stop rising prices, inflation and unemployment. Last Friday, about 3,500 protesters were in the capital, waving banner saying: “Send the corrupt guys to court”. There were around 2,500 people also in the streets in six other cities across Jordan calling for the removal of the current prime minister.
Will ‘people power’ catch on in the West? What do you predict will happen in the middle east and Africa as a result of the newly found power of the people?
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- Middle East Protests Unrest Spreads to Libya (themoderatevoice.com)
- Libya, Middle East rocked by protests (cbc.ca)
- Middle East unrest as it happened – BBC News (news.google.com)
- Arab Protest Unleased In Libya And Bahrain (news.sky.com)
- Middle East protests – live updates (guardian.co.uk)
- The Mideast Right Now: Internet Shutdown In Bahrain, Violence In Yemen, Media Blackout In Iran (businessinsider.com)
- Rioting hits Libyan city of Benghazi – Reuters (news.google.com)
- Libya cracks down on protesters after violent clashes in Benghazi (guardian.co.uk)
- Libyan protesters prepare for ‘day of rage’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Hundreds take to the streets in Yemen and Libya and as Middle East unrest continues (dailymail.co.uk)
- Libyan Gathering Flares Into Antiregime Protest – Wall Street Journal (news.google.com)
- Libya braces for ‘Day of Anger’ as protests continue throughout Middle East (telegraph.co.uk)
- Egypt-Inspired Protests Erupt Across The Arab World (huffingtonpost.com)
- Libyan Gathering Flares Into Antiregime Protest (online.wsj.com)