1910 GMT: Earlier we reported that there were protests in Saudi Arabia. Now, Saudi State News SPA is reporting that 14 people were injured, including 11 police officers, during attacks sponsored by foreign governments:
"A group of outlaws and rioters on motorbikes gathered" at a roundabout in the village of Al-Awamia in Al-Qatif province on Monday "carrying petrol bombs," SPA said, citing the Sunni-ruled kingdom's interior ministry.
The group carried out acts causing "insecurity with incitement from a foreign country that aims to undermine the nation's security and stability," SPA quoted a ministry spokesman as saying. "Security forces managed to deal with those traitors at the spot and after they were dispersed, machinegun fire erupted from a nearby neighbourhood
Activists report a much different story. According to them, several elderly men were injured in Awamya, and one man had a heart attack while they arrested his son. Several protesters have reportedly been shot by Saudi security, and afterwards groups of young men responded to the violence by lighting police cars on fire and throwing rocks. They have also provided several videos of those events, reportedly taken last night, and it appears that those men were also met with gunfire, which is clearly audible. Also, in 1 video, a protester appears to have been shot with bird-shot:
1740 GMT: While Russia is saber rattling in the UN about blocking resolutions against Syria, the United States Senate is sending a very different message. Last night, the US Senate unanimously approved the appointment of US ambassador Robert Ford, a diplomat who had angered the pro-Assad camp so much that last week his vehicle was attacked by tomatoes and eggs.
US Senator John Kerry made it clear that the unanimous appointment was a message to the Syria government that Ford, and the US, would not back down on Syrian human rights issues:
US officials said the assault was part of a campaign to intimidate diplomats looking into Assad's repression of pro-reform demonstrators. Kerry says Ford "continues courageously to visit cities under military siege and speak truth to power". [AP]
Deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov told Interfax news agency that Russia refused to back it threatened possible sanctions against Syria.
"It is unacceptable because it includes the possibility of imposing sanctions against Syria," he said.
The security council is due to vote at 9pm GMT on Tuesday on the resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's six-month-old crackdown on protesters demanding an end to his 11-year rule, Reuters reports.
Gatilov said Moscow also opposes the draft resolution because it fails to include a clause calling on powers not to become involved in internal Syrian affairs and calling for a dialogue between Assad and demonstrators.
1548 GMT: The signs in the video carry today's date and the location, Qosour, Homs, Syria. The protesters hold signs in favor of the Syrian National Council and chant angainst the government:
Women in Bayada, Homs, chant "Come on, leave, Bashar!"
1541 GMT: The traffic jam in Bahrain. Activists are claiming that if the government had allowed the human chain to take place, this traffic jam would have been avoided, as Al Wefaq and Waad, the two major parties that planned the event, were trying to avoid such a traffic jam. The government, on the other hand, is blaming the traffic jam on the protests:
1534 GMT: A source sends this picture of the "human chain" starting from a different direction in Manama, Bahrain:
The activist adds an interesting assessment. The problem of having activists blocking roads in one direct was compounded by the government's actions, and now another "human chain" is forming to link up with the first, making the traffic situation even worse.
The activist reports that the main-stream opposition parites, Al Wefaq and Waad, sponsored the events, and other revolutionary or opposition groups, such as the 14 February Coalition, simply joined the protests. We'll all see what the political and media fallout of the demonstration will be, but so far the Bahraini government has condemned today's events for hurting commuters.
1528 GMT: This video reportedly shows the funeral for the protester whose body is mentioned in our last post, Abdallah Fares Zueib, in Bab Amr, Homs:
#Homs, Bab Amr: video showing Abdallah Fares Zueib,father of 6 children, arrested on 22-9 and died under torture
The body appears to have bruising, ligature marks on some extremities, and what appear to be burn marks (cigarettes?) on the feet and legs. It is not possible to verify the man's identification or other details from the video.
1500 GMT: The daughter of Sheikh Mohammed al-Mahfoodh, chairman of the Bahrain Islamic Action Society, who was arrested and allegedly tortured, has spoken out against the sentences. Six members of the organization were given 15 year terms today, and 8 members were sentenced to ten years:
“The courts have looked at many cases of trying to 'overthrow the regime' since King Hamad came to power. This shows the situation in Bahrain is not stable and political reform is essential for stability,” Mattar Mattar, a member of Wefaq, told Reuters.
“The cases always lack evidence of physical weapons used on the ground. Is it enough to overthrow the regime just through statements?” he said.
Meanwhile, the government of Bahrain has condemned, and largely dismissed, today's "Human Chain" protest in Manama:
In a separate statement, Bahrain's Interior Ministry said it would block a planned “human chain” protest by Wefaq around its headquarters in the capital Manama later on Tuesday.
“This most recent attempt to disrupt life in Bahrain and further inconvenience its citizens follows recent weekend rioting in a popular mall and calls for a traffic blockade aimed at preventing people from reaching their places of employment,” the government's Information Affairs Authority said.
Wefaq said the protest was intended to take place on the service road in front of its headquarters, not on the highway.
1454 GMT: James Miller takes the liveblog.
And there are more heavy sentences in Bahrain:
A Bahrain court has sentenced 27 people to up to 15 years in jail for their part in unrest earlier this year.
Fourteen people - including Shia opposition party members - were given sentences of up to 10 years for their role in the pro-democracy protests.
A further 13 people were imprisoned for between five and 15 years for the kidnapping of two policemen, the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said.
1425 GMT: An EA source from the human chain protest in Bahrain's capital Manama: "Female police force just stopped a girl (about 15 y/o) who was walking to the chain location. After stopping her, they started beating her. [A passer-by] stopped and pulled the frightened girl from their hands and took her to his car, then dropped her to her brother's house who was nearby. The girl was just walking, not even holding a Bahraini flag or any indication that she will participate in the event."
Another source adds, "I can see the police helicopter is flying very close to the ground."
Many people one meets in Damascus suspect the West wishes to do to Syria what it did to Iraq and that only President Assad stands in the way of the next Operation Desert Storm. Many feel that the vandals the president is confronting out in the provinces will drag the country into a civil war if they’re not defeated now. When the admirers of the president meet, it doesn’t take much for them to see through the entire conspiracy: The foreign media, in combination with hostile governments, have worked a psy-ops campaign on the demonstrators. Now these dupes are throwing their lives away to no purpose. It’s sad perhaps, but order must be maintained.
You can live for days in Damascus having only conversations that follow this logic. After a while, you begin to feel that you have strayed into a magic kingdom and that everyone around you is living under a spell.
1408 GMT: More police trying to prevent the human chain protest at the Al Wefaq headquarters:
The additional security is reportedly causing traffic jams in the area.
1338 GMT: In Bahrain, the 14 February coalition has just announced its support for the human chain protest outside the headquarters of the Al Wefaq oppostion group, advising all members to participate.
An EA source checks in, "The traffic jam over there is crazy, the chain location is packed with police force, and they are returning any one who is walking there. Messages are spreading on social media asking people to join and, if they are prevented, to cause a huge traffic jam around the area."
The Al Wefaq headquarters, decorated with banners of political prisoners:
1335 GMT: Claimed footage of Syrian military outside the home of Mounir Al-Brijawi, preventing his funeral, in the Damascus suburb of Douma:
1255 GMT: Police in Bahrain try to prevent the formation of a "human chain" protest, called by the opposition movement Al Wefaq but banned by the authorities.
1245 GMT: Heritage Oil has bought a 51% controlling interest in Libya's Benghazi-based Sahara Oil Services for $19.5 million. It said the new acquisition would allow it to pay a significant role in Libya, allowing it to look at ways to gain access to key producing fields and licences.
Reuters reported last month that the company had hired John Holmes, a former commando in the British Special Air Services, to help it win work in Libya. Heritage denied the story, but said it had been talking to senior members of Libya's National Transitional Council during the last five months:
Heritage is exploring ways to assist the NTC and the state oil companies rehabilitate certain of their existing fields and recommence production. [Sahara Oil] has been granted long-term licences to provided full oil field services in Libya, including the ability to drill onshore and offshore and holds both oil and gas licences.
The regime's head of Public Security, Major General Tareq Mubarak bin Daina, rejected the formal request by the leading opposition group Al-Wefaq for the "human chain" demonstration. He said the protest "could cause traffic bottlenecks...while it will be difficult for organisers and security bodies to control the human chain, which might affect the safety of participants and those using the road".
Al-Wefaq called the ban on the protest, which was designed to culminate outside its offices, "illegal" and an "indication of constraints on the freedom of expression". It said the "human chain for solidarity with the prisoners of conscience and medics" was to take place in a secondary road and not on the main highway cited in the ban.
Al Wefaq member and former MP Ali Alaswad has said via Twitter that the human chain is ongoing and has not been cancelled, as claimed by authorities.
0825 GMT: Security forces and protesters clash in Al Dair in Bahrain last night:
0605 GMT: In Syria, protesters in Rankous in the Damascus countryside call for freedom for political prisoners:
In the Hajar Al-Aswad district of Damascus, "Syria belongs to us, not the Assad family":
The site claims that the demonstrations began Sunday after Saudi security forces detained he elderly fathers of two men who are wanted for participation in anti-regime protests.
Human Rights Watch has said more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February.
Claimed footage of young men in the village of Al Awamia:
0530 GMT: We begin the morning with a glance at Bahrain, where the opposition has called for a "Manama Tsunami", protesting the detention of political prisoners and the lengthy sentences imposed on medical staff, to slow traffic on the roads.
It is 8:30 a.m. in the Bahraini capital Manama, about halfway through the four-hour action and this is one of the numerous pictures we are getting. As always, it is up to interpretation whether this is a normal rush-hour image or a sign that the demonstration has had some effect.
An EA source reports vanloads of policemen near the main roads and adds, "They are closing traffic-lights [on the main highway] so traffic will move faster but causing other traffic on side roads."
Meanwhile, the nightly pattern of protest in Bahraini villages continues --- a march in Karbabad calls for freeing of detainees: