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Saturday
Nov192011

Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The "Forgotten" Protests That Never Went Away

Body of a 16-year-old, Ali Alsatrawi, lies next to the police jeep that hit him last night in Bahrain


2205 GMT: Egyptian State media are reporting that one person was killed and 676 injured in today's clashes in Cairo.

2105 GMT: Video of Said Qaddafi, captured today, on the plane to Zintan:

2100 GMT: A large protest in Harak in Daraa Province in Syria:

1825 GMT: An Egyptian photojournalist and videographer, Ahmed Fatah of the Egyptian al-Masry al-Youm news service, has been shot in the eye by the police in Tahrir Square. He is undergoing surgery in Cairo.

1821 GMT: Arguably no single city has suffered more since the start of Arab Spring than Homs, Syria. These two videos show protests in Bab Amro, which has been under nearly constant attack by the Syrian military for several weeks. In the first, the people chant "Death rather than humiliation," and in the second they chant for international protection:

1814 GMT: Al Arabiya is reporting that 19 have been killed across Syria, but Al Jazeera is only reporting 9 deaths thus far:

Three civilians were killed in the town of Kafr Takhareem, in the northwestern province of Idlib bordering Turkey, as military forces raided the area, he said.

Two civilians were killed by gunfire during clashes between the regular army and mutinous soldiers in the town of Qusayr, in restive Homs province, while a third person was shot dead by a sniper in Homs city, he added.

The Observatory earlier reported the death of a civilian by gunfire when security forces stormed the village of Halfaya in the flashpoint central province of Hama.

The Britain-based group also quoted a defecting officer as saying in an earlier report that two army deserters were killed in clashes with regular troops in Qusayr.

1810 GMT: Al Jazeera has this update:

Egypt's Health Minsitry has reported 213 injuries from clashes today between protesters and Central Security forces, according to Hani Shukrallah, the managing editor of al-Ahram, Egypt's largest newspaper.

1800 GMT: A dramatic scene in Egypt tonight, but in Syria it's just another night of protesting and violence. This video was reportedly taken in Zamalka, an important suburb just outside Damascus:

1755 GMT: Tahrir Square this evening --- a picture shows the crowd, videos shows the crackdown.

1742 GMT: There remains some confusion, but it appears that the protesters in Tahrir Square moved into the square about 30 minutes ago, and were met with violence, however the police have reportedly retreated.

These tweets by reporter Jon Jensen were sent about 30 minutes ago:

Protesters in Tahrir have taken the square again. Security forces have fallen back. Loud gunfire now.

Mohamed Mahmoud looks and sounds like a war zone. Shotguns, tear gas, molotovs, fires burning on the street. The battle is raging.

Police firing shotguns into the crowd. These protesters keep on pushing forward though

However, Al Jazeera had this report approximately 15 minutes ago:

Protesters in Tahrir Square are attempting to erect barricades, effectively employed during the revolution to keep attacking crowds out, Lina Atallah says. Meanwhile, organised bands of football fans are chanting against the Interior Ministry, which oversees the Central Security forces involved in today's clashes.

Should protesters move toward the ministry, more violence could result. Security forces and army troops have proven willing to use lethal violence to defend the building.

1741 GMT: According to Sultan Al Qassemi, the police have left Tahrir Square and the protesters have moved in.

1734 GMT: A video from Tahrir Square, reportedly taken within the last hour. The narrator says it all, "These are Egyptian security forces. They are trying to run the demonstrators over":

James Miller takes the blog.

1715 GMT: A Ministry of Health official in Egypt says 45 people are in hospital amidst today's clashes, with another 186 treated in Tahrir Square for tear gas inhalation.

Another official has said 81 people have been injured.

1700 GMT: Bahrain's Ministry of Interior has persisted with its claim --- despite evidence to the contrary (see 0950 and 1125 GMT) --- that the death of 16-year-old Ali Alsatrawi was not the responsibility of the police jeep that hit him but of protesters:

We would like to clarify that what happened was the result of illegal practices such as pouring oil on the streets and other acts of terror and vandalism....We call again on parents and political associations and all concerned civil society institutions to protect their children from being involved in these dangerous and irresponsible acts of violence which inflicted injury on the innocent citizen who was hit with an iron bar.

The "innocent citizen who was hit with an iron bar" was a woman named Zahra Saleh Mohammed, who was hit in the Aldaih area. It is unclear --- despite the MOI statement --- who hurled the bar and whether Mohammed was caught in clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

The mother of Alsatrawi saying good-bye to her son before his burial:

1655 GMT: People at evening prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo as security forces began firing tear gas:

Raw footage from Al Masry al Youm of the clashes:

1640 GMT: It looks like there may be a debate among Libyan authorities over whether to turn over Saif al-Islam Qaddafi to the International Criminal Court for trial. The Zintan forces, who captured the son of the former Libyan leader, have said he will not be handed to Tripoli without a guarantee of legal process.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo has said he will travel to Libya next week for talks with the National Transitional Council about the proceedings.

Meanwhile, Qaddafi has told journalists that he was fine --- injuries to his right hand, visible in a photograph (see 1420 GMT) were suffered during a NATO air strike a month ago, as he tried to flee the town of Bani Walid.

Reuters' images of Qaddafi on the plane to Zintan:

1630 GMT: News from Egypt has been dominated today by running clashes in Cairo after police cleared Tahrir Square early this morning. Observers reports stone-throwing and the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by security forces. A video of the scene in Tahrir this afternoon:

Photographer Jonathan Rashad sent the message, "I'm stuck in apartment overlooking the square. I can't go down cause it's totally occupied by CSF [security forces] and they might come up as well." He took this picture just over an hour ago:

And a screenshot from TV coverage:

1620 GMT: Claimed photograph of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of the former Libyan leader, after his capture today in southern Libya:

1435 GMT: Activist Alexander Page posts dramatic videos of protests in the centre of Damascus on Friday. Demonstrations and a large security presence in the Nahr Eshe district:

Plainclothes regime loyalists --- who appear to be very poorly trained --- fire at protesters in the Kafersouseh district in the centre of the capital:

1425 GMT: An EA correspondent reported from the funeral of 16-year-old Ali Alsatrawi in Bahrain just over an hour ago: "We have been attacked. I just managed to run away from about 100 thugs who were chasing me and a group after we left the funeral."

Video of the tear-gassing by security forces:

1420 GMT: One of the consequences of the Syrian regime killing civilians so close to the capital is that someone has to bury them, creating new protests very close to the heart of Damascus.

Activists post this video from Irbeen, with processions for two protesters who were killed yesterday:

1240 GMT: Women in the funeral procession for Ali Alsatrawi in Bahrain:

1235 GMT: Photo of protesters taking police truck to drive it near Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital Cairo:

1225 GMT: More on the capture of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi in southern Libya....

In a press conference in Tripoli, Bashir Thaelba, a field commander in the National Transitional Council, said Qaddafi, detained with three bodyguards, would be moved to the southern city of Zintan. Thaelba declared, "We hope the Libyan people will do well now after the capture of Saif al-Islam, and they need to move forward and take care of themselves and their country."

The press conference ended with cries from the podium of "Allah Akbar (God is Great)".

Mohammad Alalaqi, the NTC's Minister of Justice who broke the news of the capture, said Qaddafi will face a fair judicial process: "We do not mind having international observers at the trial. We will coordinate with the International Criminal Court on the trial."

1155 GMT: The Minister of Justice in Libya's National Transitional Council official Mohammed al-Allaqi has told Al Arabiya that Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of the late Libyan leader, has been arrested in the Ubari oasis in the south of the country.

1145 GMT: An Al Jazeera English journalist has reported, "Dozens wounded in Tahrir clash today. Many of those who remained for sit-in were families of people injured in uprising."

1125 GMT: An important note on our correspondent's report (see 0950 GMT) on the death of 16-year-old Ali Alsatrawi in Bahrain last night, indicating not only that he was hit by a police jeep but that security forces tried to cover up responsibility --- and blame protesters --- by moving the body.

Our correspondent has sent a graphic photo of Alsatrawi before his body was covered. I cannot bring myself to post it, although readers may follow this link, but the picture does indicate that the young man was hit in a narrow side street, not the main road as police claimed.

Activists have also posted photographs comparing the alleged locations of the death.

1115 GMT: Bahrain police arrest eight young men in Sanabis last night:

1105 GMT: Egypt's riot police are dismantling tents and arresting activists in Tahrir Square in central Cairo.

Protesters had spent the night in the square after the mass rally on Friday but scuffles broke out this morning. Police were seen beating activists who challenged them and arresting three people who refused to leave.

1005 GMT: A video of yesterday's rally in the Yemeni capital Sana'a, WIHT protesters calling for President Saleh to be put on trial:

0950 GMT: An EA correspondent follows up on last night's events (see 0625 GMT) in Bahrain:

This morning, I went to Juffair village to see the spot where Ali Alsatrawi was killed by a police jeep.

The Ministry of Interior claimed that the jeep driver lost control of his vehicle on a main road because there were oil split on the road, but it is clear from the death scene --- which I saw --- that Alsatrawi the martyr was not hit in the main road but was ran over in a very narrow street in Juffair just next to a wall. Pictures uploaded on-line confirm my observation that the body was moved by MOI officers to reset the crime scene, throwing blame on the protesters as the cause of the accident.

This is not the first time MOI has manipulated evidence --- it occurred when four detainees who died in prison were given causes of death such as liver failure or sickle-cell anemia despite although marks of abuse on their bodies.

A photo of the claimed location where Alsatrawi was hit and killed:

A regime supporter tries to explain away the death, "Did you know any terrorist who gets injured is paid BD600 monthly by wefaq? They throw themselves onto oncoming police jeeps all the time."

0710 GMT: We will be keeping a close eye on Syria to see if our expectations of the political conflict continue to be met. Beyond the routine of deaths on Friday --- at least 17, according to activists, including three regime troops --- there were the distinctive shift in resistance. Video showed that the Free Syria Army launched at least one notable attack against the military's tanks and, again at least once, protected a protest march by firing back at the regime's forces.

On the diplomatic front, our prediction of a co-ordinated approach among the US, European partners, Turkey, and Arab countries also appears to be on the mark, with the Arab League's suspension of Syria the starting pistol for a campaign of rhetoric and possibly much more.

On Friday, the French and Turkish Foreign Ministers made their declarations that President Assad was beyond redemption, followed by a statement from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This morning it has been announced that the British Foreign Office will meet members of the Syrian opposition.

Look also for signs of a move --- foreseen by James Miller --- by Ankara towards a no-fly zone over northwest Syria. If that does come about, we are approaching a limited parallel for the allied action taken towards Libya from this spring.

0650 GMT: Hundreds of thousands of people turned out in Cairo and Alexandria yesterday in one of the largest days of demonstration in Egypt since the fall of the Mubarak regime. What is less clear, beyond the general denunciation of the military rulers, is the direction of the demonstrations, amidst chatter about the domination of "Islamists" over other groups.

0625 GMT: By Friday afternoon, David Kenner of Foreign Policy magazine, in an article titled, "The Forgotten Uprising" was tipping off the renewed attention to events in Bahrain, "Below the radar, thousands also demonstrated in Bahrain -- in the largest protests the island kingdom has experienced in weeks."

Kenner's recognition can and should be accentuated in several ways: 1) the challenge to the Bahraini regime never went away, even if many in the international media stopped watching on the assumption that this spring's crackdown had quelled dissent; 2) there have been large marches, organised by leading opposition groups, for months, not weeks; 3) Friday was more than "thousands".

And now there are further developments. A woman was injured amidst clashes in Aldaih between security forces and protesters, and last night news emerged that a 16-year-old man, Ali Alsatrawi, had been killed when he was run over by a police jeep. 

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