Saturday, 26 November 2011

Civil unrest in the Middle East

Not only in Egypt, but elsewhere in the  Middle East there has been violence and civil unrest.
This news update from al- Jazeera gives a good idea of what has been happening in the last 24 hours or so.

Mass rally in Cairo against military rule

Military council says Monday's election to go ahead even as Egyptians fill Tahrir Square rejecting its choice of new PM.


Tens of thousands of demonstrators have packed Cairo's Tahrir Square after days of deadly clashes, demanding Egypt's military rulers step down and rejecting their choice of new prime minister.

Tensions have risen in Egypt in the lead-up to parliamentary elections, due to start on Monday. However, the streets were relatively calm on Friday as a truce negotiated the day before in Cairo continued to hold.

Amid the ongoing turmoil, the governing Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has asked Kamal el-Ganzouri, 78, a prime minister under deposed president Hosni Mubarak, to head a new cabinet.

"Previous cabinets over the past 60 years were given many powers by the president of the republic," Ganzouri said on Friday in his first public statement after his appointment.

But he has been granted "much more powers" than past predecessors, said Ganzouri, who served as Mubarak's prime minister between 1996 and 1999.

But protesters in Tahrir Square quickly rejected his appointment, saying he was not the man to lead a transition to democracy.

"I think he was popular in his era, and successful. He did good during his period, but this is not his time," Abdullah Ahmed 22, a university student, said.

Hundreds of protesters in the public square later branched off to the nearby cabinet offices in a bid to prevent Ganzouri from entering the building, an AFP reporter said.

About 5,000 supporters of the military staged their own demonstration on Friday several miles north of Tahrir Square in the district of Abbassiyah, not far from the defence ministry building.

"Waving giant Egyptian flags and chanting slogans praising Tantawi, the protesters filled every inch of free space under the Abbassiyah Bridge, some even lined up along its ramps despite the passing traffic," Al Jazeera's Malika Bilal reported from Cairo, referring to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the SCAF.

"'The army and the people are one hand," they yelled in unison, the sound of drums and car horns adding to the chorus of sounds."

Ganzouri's appointment

Ganzouri's appointment was announced by Egypt's state television following a meeting late on Thursday between him and Tantawi.

Tantawi was Mubarak's defence minister of 20 years and served in Ganzouri's earlier government.

It was the latest in a series of efforts by the military to appease protesters without meeting their main demand of stepping down immediately.

Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf speaks to some Cairo residents whose voices are being drowned out by the protests

The generals also apologised on Thursday for the killing of nearly 40 protesters in deadly clashes, mostly centered around Tahrir Square.

This was the longest spate of uninterrupted violence since the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak on February 11.

The choice of Ganzouri has, however, only antagonised the protesters, already angry over the military's perceived reluctance to dismantle the legacy of Mubarak's 29-year rule.

Ganzouri replaces Essam Sharaf, who resigned this week after nearly nine months in office amid deadly clashes between police and protesters calling for an end to military rule.

Sharaf was criticised for being weak and beholden to the generals.

The military has said parliamentary elections will be held on schedule despite the unrest in Cairo and several other cities to the north and south of the capital. 

Voting in each phase of the three-stage parliamentary election will be held over two days instead of one, the SCAF announced on Friday.

Voting starts on Monday and concludes in March, meaning that Ganzouri could be prime minister only until a new government is formed following the seating of a new legislature.

'Leave, leave'

Friday's protest in Tahrir Square was dubbed by organisers as The Last Chance Million-Man Protest.

Swelling crowds chanted, "Leave, leave!'' and "the people want to bring down the field marshal'', in reference to Tantawi, who took over the reins of power from Mubarak in February.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the pro-reform leader and Nobel Peace laureate, was mobbed by hundreds of supporters as he arrived in Tahrir Square and took part in Friday prayers, leaving shortly afterwards.

The demonstrators have vowed not to leave the area until the generals step down in favour of a civilian presidential council. Their show of resolve resembles that of the rallies which forced Mubarak to relinquish power.

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters also took to the streets in other cities, including at least 10,000 in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and smaller crowds in Luxor and Assiut in southern Egypt.

The military has rejected calls to immediately step down, saying its claim to power is supported by the warm welcome given to troops who took over the streets from the discredited police early in the anti-Mubarak uprising as well as an overwhelming endorsement for constitutional amendments they proposed in a March referendum.

Tantawi has offered another referendum on whether his military council should step down immediately.

Such a vote, activists say, would divide the nation and likely open the door for a deal between the military and political groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Egypt's largest and best organised group, the Brotherhood was empowered after the fall of Mubarak, regaining legitimacy after spending nearly 60 years as an outlawed group.

Saudi Arabia Says Four Killed in Unrest in Oil-Rich East

25 November, 2011

Four people were killed and nine wounded in clashes between Shiite Muslims and Saudi Arabian security forces in the oil-rich Eastern Province, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Two people were killed today during an exchange of gunfire at the funeral of two others who died earlier this week in the al-Qatif region, Saudi Press said citing a Ministry of Interior statement.

“Security checkpoints and vehicles have been the target of gunfire from aggressors hiding among civilians since Monday,” the ministry said. “Security forces have dealt with the situation with as much restraint as possible.”

Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki accused unidentified “foreign parties” of fomenting the unrest. No arrests were made yet, he told a press conference in Riyadh.

Predominantly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia has accused Shiite- led Iran of interfering in the affairs of Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, home to three-fifths of the world’s oil reserves. Iran denies the allegation and accuses the Sunni rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain of discriminating against Shiites.

Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority is concentrated in the kingdom’s eastern oil-producing hub, which lies across a 16-mile (26-kilometer) causeway from Shiite-majority Bahrain, where there were violent clashes in February and March as security forces crushed protests by Shiites demanding democracy and representative government.

‘Excessive Force’
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, and other Gulf countries sent troops to Bahrain in March to quell the unrest. A Bahrain commission investigating the crackdown yesterday released a report saying that the government used “excessive force” against protesters and that five people died as a result of torture.

There were also rallies this year among Shiites in eastern Saudi Arabia, including al-Qatif and Awwamiya. The rest of the country largely escaped the mass protests that spread across much of the Middle East.

Oil rose from the lowest price in two weeks after a surprise drop in U.S. stockpiles. Crude for January delivery rose 0.7 percent to $96.87 a barrel at 3:50 p.m. in London.

10 Personnel Killed in Attack on Syrian Air Force Base

25 November, 2011

At least 10 members of the Syrian Air Force were killed today in an attack on an air base between the cities of Homs and Palmyra. Among the slain were six elite military pilots who were believed to be the targets.

In addition to the pilots, the attackers also killed a technical officer and three other personnel on the base. The Syrian military blamed “foreign-backed” fighters for the attack but offered little indication as to their origin

No comments:

Post a comment