by Siri Vita
MENA UPDATE February 26th 2011
Events in the Middle East & North Africa region (MENA) are unfolding quickly as protesters across the region, calling for regime changes, freedom and democracy refuse to back down, even in the face of ruling regime brutality.
Calls for action against Gaddafi by the US and the United Nations escalated as evacuations were completed and the danger of a hostage crisis receded. However, Gaddafi appears to be holding the entire city of Tripoli hostage as fighting escalates around the capital. Cities all around Libya has come under control of the opposition with the entire eastern half of the country celebrating freedom from his 41 year dictatorial rule.
Gaddafi’s forces are made up of Special Forces loyal to his two sons, about 5,000 regular army soldiers and mercenaries brought in from Chad and Niger. Army, Navy and airforce personnel have defected and come out in support of the opposition forces after being ordered to attack civilians. Reports of mass killings by Gaddafi loyalists of soldiers who refused orders have surfaced over the last few days with video evidence supporting the claims.
Opposition forces are reluctant to enter Tripoli without a no fly zone being enforced. They fear bringing on an aerial bombing attack that would destroy the city and cause extreme civilian casualties. A no-fly zone over Libya would also halt the importation of the foreign mercenaries bolstering Gaddafi’s dwindling loyal forces. The U.N. security council is meeting in special session today (Saturday) amidst calls from all quarters to establish this no-fly zone.
Estimates are that thousands have died in the conflict to date with thousands more wounded, arrested or missing. In Tripoli, snipers opened fire yesterday on worshipers leaving Friday prayers and roving bands of armed mercenaries cruised the streets. Gaddafi called his own rally, attended by about 200 loyalists, in which he gave yet another rambling speech in which he stated he would throw open the armament stores for his loyalists to use against the opposition. There are grave concerns that as he sees his chances of regaining control of the country dwindling, he will commit mass murder within the capital. Defectors from his inner circle state that he is quite capable of such action and the current focus of everyone is looking for a way to avoid a bloodbath in Tripoli.
An interim government has been formed in Benghazi until#Tripoli is liberated. The former Justice Minister, Abdul Jalil Mustafa, who resigned in protest of the crackdown, has been named interim president.
Tens of thousands gathered in Manama, Bahrain Friday on the official day of mourning for the 7 dead since protests began there on February 14th.. The government called security forces off the streets a week after protests began and things have been relatively peaceful since. Thousands marched in Pearl Square chanting “Leave Hamad” & “Down Hamad” referring to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
The King has fired 3 ministers in an attempt to appease the protesters.
Demonstrators protesting the rule of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh were attacked in brutal crack down in Aden on Friday with reports of up to 19 dead. Other protests taking place in the capital of Sanaa and Taez have also seen violence since protests began.
From EA Newsfeed: “More on the difficulties for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh from the apparent defection of two of Yemen's most important tribes to the anti-regime movement.
Powerful tribal leaders, including those of the Hashid and Baqil, pledged at a gathering north of the capital Sanaa to join protests against Saleh.
"I have announced my resignation from the General People's Congress in protest at the repression of peaceful demonstrators in Sanaa, Taez and Aden," Hashid tribal chief Sheikh Hussein bin Abdullah al-Ahmar was quoted as saying.
The Hashids are considered Yemen's most powerful tribal confederation and include nine clans, among them the Sanhan, long a bulwark of Saleh's regime”
Protesters in Tahrir square and at the Parliament building had gathered to mark the two weeks since Mubarak has stepped down. Protesters have vowed to come out every Friday till the military cedes power to a civilian government.
In a move which has now angered many and may prove extremely counter-productive for the Egyptian military, forces moved in on the protesters last night dispersing them with tasers and whips while chasing them through the streets. There were reports of many arrests and beatings amid the ensuing chaos.
The Egyptian military apologized today on it’s facebook page! All those who were detained last night have been released.
From EA News Feed: “As more than 100,000 people demonstrated in Tunis, Tunisia's interim Government said Friday that elections will be held by mid-July.
Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi's Government also announced that it had seized financial and real estate assets belonging to 110 more members of the entourage of former President Ben Ali. Similar action had already been taken against 46 people, and arrest warrants had been issued for Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi.”
A march from Azadi square is being planned for March 1st.
PM of Iraq said: we are a democracy we don't fear demonstrations. He then imposed curfew and sent police to shoot at protesters. Reportedly at least 7 dead.
Saturday, 26 February 2011
by Siri Vita