Iran, Bahrain Crack down on Protesters, as Rallies Held in Yemen

Last Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed support for Egyptian protesters. “Despite all the [West’s] complicated and satanic designs … a new Middle East is emerging without the Zionist regime and U.S. interference, a place where the arrogant powers will have no place…” Yet on Monday, Iran reacted to its own street protests in a manner only the worst of the Egyptian secret police tried, on one or two days.

The Iranian security forces deployed tear gas, pepper spray and batons against the demonstrators. In some instances they opened fire, wounding protesters.

Thousands of Iranians demonstrated in the streets of Tehran on Monday, with a handful being wounded and at least one dead in the course of the regime’s crackdown. Protesters were attempting to revive the excitement and anti-government feeling of summer-fall 2009, when millions objected to the announced vote tallies that affirmed the victory of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Video is here.

Unlike in Egypt, where except for a day or two the Mubarak regime avoided direct physical confrontation of the demonstrators, in Iran the Basij, or volunteers for the Islamic Republic, attacked protesters on motorcycle and repressed them. Eyewitnesses said that dozens were jailed.

Meanwhile clerics in parliament called for the death penalty for demonstrators arrested at the scene.

Opposition leader, Mehdi Karroubi had been placed under house arrest last week for calling for further demonstrations.

Meanwhile, protests also broke out in Bahrain, where Shiite activists are protesting their marginalization by a Sunni monarchy, even though Shiites form two-thirds of Bahrain’s population. The US Fifth Fleet is based at Bahrain in the Gulf.

EuroNews has video:

And in Yemen, 3,000 students, attorneys and activists demonstrated in the capital of Sanaa, demanding that long time strong man Ali Abdallah Saleh step down.

Mosaic TV does a roundup of Monday’s developments in the Middle East:

In Egypt, which inspired the current round of demonstrations, the martial law government pledged to have the constitution amended within 10 days, with the changes put to a national referendum within 2 months. Demonstrators had demanded that clauses disadvantageous to free and fair elections be removed or changed before polls are held, sometime before October.

In Algeria, where there have also been small demonstrations, the government is now saying it will lift the emergency laws through which it has ruled with an iron fist.

10 Responses

  1. Robert Fisk may have the reason the military doesn’t want to talk about political prisoners:

    Robert Fisk: Is the army tightening its grip on Egypt? – Robert Fisk, Commentators – The Independent link to independent.co.uk

    “As for the freeing of political prisoners, the military has remained suspiciously silent. Is this because there are prisoners who know too much about the army’s involvement in the previous regime? Or because escaped and newly liberated prisoners are returning to Cairo and Alexandria from desert camps with terrible stories of torture and executions by – so they say – military personnel. An Egyptian army officer known to ‘The Independent’ insisted yesterday that the desert prisons were run by military intelligence units who worked for the interior ministry – not for the ministry of defence.”

  2. “Unlike in Egypt, where except for a day or two the Mubarak regime avoided direct physical confrontation of the demonstrators”… That is a bit carelessly formulated, to say the least. Riot police forcefully attacked demonstrators on 25 january, after some initial hesitaion. Confrontations continued on 26 and 27 January, and culminated in heavy street fighting, not just in Cairo but in Suez and Alexandria, on 28 January. Then, there were the attacks on demonstrators on 2 and 3 February, attacks in which undercover securuty agents heavily participated (to use an understatement). That is six days of armed attacks on demonstrators, not two…

    Please, let us not exaggerate the regime’s tendency to avoid confrontation with the mass movement. It may somewhat apply to the army (which did a good-cop-routine). It does not apply to the regime as such.

  3. Juan writes – “Iran reacted to its own street protests in a manner only the worst of the Egyptian secret police tried, on one or two days.”

    That’s a strange thing to write given that two protestors were killed in Iran while 300+ Egyptian’s were killed.

    Or compare the Iranian state’s vicious response to the much larger 2009 protests where dozens died – again, a far smaller death toll than that inflicted by Washington’s ex-favorite dictator.

    The reaction of both regimes to protest has been despicable, but for Juan to portray Iran’s as worse inverts reality. It’s like he’s channeling Hillary Clinton.

  4. “Unlike in Egypt, where except for a day or two the Mubarak regime avoided direct physical confrontation of the demonstrators,”
    Unfortunately professor the Mubarak regime and the military itself detained, injured and killed protesters from Jan 25 to at least Feb 9. Here is a list of the still missing compiled by Samer Karam in Beirut and credited also by Al-Jazeera.

    link to BloggingBeirut.com

  5. Hello.

    In conversations about the wave of unrest through the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa (as well as the resumption of protests in SW Asia), I’ve drawn parallels between these protests and the Revolutions of 1848 in Europe. Many of the same sources of unrest are there – oppressive or authoritarian governments, wealth disparity and other economic factors.

    What do you think?

  6. This is all heady stuff and of absolutely historic significance but I was wondering if you might spare at least one post to give your impression of the powder keg that is about to blow in Pakistan.

  7. I would also point out that the number of protesters in Iran has been massively exaggerated by the media. From what I can see of the videos posted around the Net, as well as from various posters at RaceforIran.com, the number of protesters probably numbered less than ten thousand in Tehran, and almost none everywhere else. There is zero evidence of the “hundreds of thousands” the main stream media are promoting everywhere.

    Contrast this to the February 11 celebration of the Iranian Revolution, videos of which show incredibly large masses of people in many of Iran’s provinces.

    There is definitely an agenda to push the Green Movement, which has very little momentum in Iran. Virtually all the US media has been proclaiming that the Egyptian revolution promises to be exported to Iran, without any evidence whatsoever. Meanwhile, the media also ignores the protests and issues going on against the Palestinian government and against Israel.

    • MSNBC showed videos of the crowds celebrating the Iranian Revolution and captioned them as being protesters! AP, The Guardian, and Huffington Post were leaders in pushing the phony protester numbers.

  8. In fact the rallies in Iran counld not attract the world-wide attention, due to the lack of the covering of mass-media and fewer videos on YouTube. So far the Iranian regime’s tactics of kicking out the foreign journalists and arresting thousands of activists is proved efficient. But it does not mean that we can ignore the potential power of those who marched on the street notwithstanding the Basiji’s brutal pressure.

  9. Angry Arab provides us with an important aspect of the Iranian demonstrations not being mentioned that deserves much wider notice:

    “No to Gaza? Are you kidding me?
    “I have more reasons to be fiercely opposed to the Green Movement than ever. I received confirmation that signs and chants by Iranian Green protesters included the slogan “No to Gaza” (I don’t care about Lebanon [They are also chanting No to Lebanon.]). Are you kidding me? First, the leader of the Green Movement wants to return to “the purity” of Khumayni’s revolution and you wonder why I would not lend support? I am for the overthrow of the Iranian regime of course, and the Supreme Guide has to be toppled and the position canceled but the Green Movement won’t do it. The Green Movement is like March 14 Movement in Lebanon: worthy only of my scorn. Of course, there are Iranian leftist protesters who don’t support the Green Movement: those get my vote. And what has Gaza done to you? Gaza is not Hamas (Hamas has installed a lousy government in Gaza but the Abu Mazen government in the West Bank is ever far lousier because, as Sa’ib `Urayqat admitted in the Palestine Papers, they lie and “kill Palestinians” for Israel.) Gaza is an impoverished community of uprooted and occupied Palestinians who live under siege. No to Gaza? Oh, no: NO to the Green Revolution and its pro- Khumayni leaders. Between Khamenei and Khumayni: I choose neither. Between Ahdmadinajad and Musavi, I choose neither.”

    link to angryarab.blogspot.com

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