Protesters Brave Live Crackdowns in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia

Since Muslims gather on Friday afternoon for group prayers at mosques, Fridays have for 1400 years been a time when it is easy to mobilize crowds for political action. In the US, Friday is a nothing news day and in fact bad news is released late on Friday on the theory that no one will bother to notice it. But in the Middle East, a lot of news happens on Fridays. Here are some of the big stories generated by 4/29:

1. Thousands of protesters defied a ban on rallies in Syria on Friday, in Deraa in the south, Banias on the coast, Homs and Hama in the center of the country, Qamishly in the Kurdish east, and 10,000 came out in Damascus itself. Security forces are said to have killed 62 persons yesterday. Mind you, all this activity came after the regime had already sent in tanks and snipers and made it clear that it would use live ammunition to repress the protests. Deraa has been occupied by units of the fourth and fifth army divisions, and nevertheless residents of surrounding small towns walked into the besieged city to protest the crackdown and deaths there; 15 were allegedly killed.

Aljazeera English has video:

2. In Yemen, enormous duelling demonstrations were held in the capital of Sanaa. Tens of thousands of protesters marched up a main thoroughfare demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Elsewhere in the city, tens of thousands of his followers demonstrated in favor of the president’s legitimacy. In the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, protesters were fired at by security forces, and several were allegedly killed. There was also a big demonstration in Aden.

On Sunday, Saleh is scheduled to meet with opposition leaders to conclude an agreement that would lead to his stepping down within 30 days. His government insists that the protests should stop at that point. The opposition worries that the agreement will be a 30-day license for Saleh to kill protesters and quash the movement.

3. In Bahrain, Crowds gathered in front of the mosque of Sheikh Issa Qasim to protest the death sentence handed down on four Bahrain Shiites accused of killing a policeman in the course of the rallies. Also, hundreds of Shiites in towns such as Karzakan came out to protest the Sunni monarchy’s crackdown on the protest movement.

4. In Qatif and Awamiya in Saudi Arabia, local Shiites protested against the treatment of their coreligionists in Bahrain. Saudi troops went into Bahrain to prop up the authoritarian Sunni monarchy.

Iran’s Presstv has video of the Qatif demonstrations:

6 Responses

  1. For the life of me, I do not know why protests in a small city and a tiny village in Saudi Arabia are made to look as if the whole of the Eastern Province is up in flames against the Royal Saudi Family, that the province will break off the kingdom or that the Royal Family is about to fall. This, especially when there are not even 1000 or even 500 protesters for this matter.

    Secondly, the Bahraini kingdom requested for foreign help in the same way that Khamenei requested Iraqi and Lebanese Shia help in quelling the Iranian protests in 2009, so I see a double standard being used here by Press TV and their friends.

    • @Abu umar: this is an interesting claim about Lebanese Shias being brought in to quell protests or start protests depending on the country. Are there any objective references anywhere to support that?

      You are right though about the small protest numbers in KSA. Maybe people get especially skittish about any protests in the Eastern Province because even minor unrest could trigger oil supply concerns.

  2. Short of military intervention, would Professor Cole at least agree that the United States should impose on Bahrain exactly what it does on Syria, i.e. sanctions, maybe even the cessation of all diplomatic and military relations?

    • I don’t know why you put the question in that way. I should think I have made my opprobrium for the way the Bahrain protests have been dealt with. I don’t make policy and don’t know what good it would do for me to suggest one. If I were in charge, I’d move the naval base; we don’t need to be associated with that sort of regime.

  3. as of tonight, Saleh refuses to sign the agreement

    “The Yemeni president has refused to sign a Gulf Arab-led agreement to give up power in exchange for legal immunity, sources say…”
    link to

    and the US and NATO have reportedly killed Gaddafi’s youngest son and three of his grandchildren. this is part of a no fly zone and protection of civilians?
    link to

    correct me if I am wrong, but attempted/actual assassination of any foreign leader/s is still against US federal law (unless that was changed under king george), if not against international law. & no matter what any UN resolution or US president or NATO leader or general says it’s immoral and unethical…

    • correct me if I am wrong, but attempted/actual assassination of any foreign leader/s is still against US federal law (unless that was changed under king george), if not against international law.

      During a state of war, anyone in the military chain of command, up to the C-in-C, is every bit as legitimate a target as a corporal driving a tank.

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