See also Egypt Letter: Returning to Mubarak's Prisons (Alaa) br>
Libya Special: Creating Armies out of Militias (Sheridan) br>
Libya Special: National Transitional Council Struggles to Remain the "Good Guys" (Malone) br>
Syria Special: Should We Treat Calls for a No-Fly Zone Seriously? (Zenko)
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, giving no details of who would be pardoned or when, said the releases would support "continued communication with the great Egyptian people and the youth of the revolution".
Human rights groups estimate that more than 12,000 civilians have been processed by military tribunals this year. This week brought international attention to the detentions with the military court's order to hold blogger and activist Alaa Abd-El Fattah (see separate entry).
1945 GMT: Claimed footage from Al Dair in Bahrain this evening, as protesters chant, "The martyr said, 'I sacrificed my soul to my country'" and "We will sacrifice our blood and souls to the martyrs":
1923 GMT: Al Arabiya reports that Syrian President Bashar al Assad will give a national address soon to discuss his agreement with the Arab League. Al Arabiya is also reporting that unless national dialogue includes the resignation of the regime, many prominent Syrian opposition groups have already stated that they are not interested in the process.
Tomorrow should be interesting...
1858 GMT: What is the impact of the uprising on Syria's economy? New number suggest that deposits in private banks dropped 18% this quarter, and the drops may be even steeper in the state-sector banks.
Bank Audi Syria's customer deposits fell 11 percent in the third quarter to 56.56 billion Syrian pounds ($1.15 billion), 31 percent lower than at the start of the year.
Bemo Saudi Fransi saw deposits fall 18 percent to 71.12 billion pounds, down 31 percent so far this year, while Bank of Syria and Overseas' deposits dropped 9 percent to 62.47 billion pounds, down 25 percent since January.
1748 GMT: An EA source in Bahrain sends us some photos of tonight's events, as the "Freedom Torch" arrived in Bori village:
This video is reportedly from last night's protests. In Sefala village, protesters held a rally titled "Sunnis & Shia brothers."
1714 GMT: The LCCS adds details on today's death toll in Syria. They report that 15 civilians were killed in Homs, 1 was killed in Erbeen (Damascus) and 1 in Deir Ez Zor. They also provide several videos. We share three, but there are more.
Shelling of a residential neighborhood in the Baba Amr district of Homs:
Despite reports of an agreement between the Arab League and the Syrian government, the LCCS posts this video, which reportedly shows a large convoy of military reinforcements moving INTO the city of Homs:
1707 GMT: Meanwhile, Al Arabiya is reporting that 24 people have been killed in Syria. Now Lebanon is also reporting that many Syrian soldiers have been killed by defected soldiers in retaliation of the death of 11 Sunni civilians in Kafr Laha:
"A group of deserters blew up a device as a military van and a vehicle passed by in Al-Madiq area, killing seven soldiers," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Eight other security personnel were killed in a similar attack on a convoy carrying security agents and pro-regime militiamen on the road between Qaalet al-Madiq and Sqailbiyeh, it said in a statement received in Nicosia.
The proposal calls on Syria to withdraw all tanks and armoured vehicles from the streets, stop violence against protesters, release all political prisoners and begin a dialogue with the opposition within two weeks.
Syria also agreed to allow journalists, rights groups and Arab League representatives to monitor the situation in Syria.
It remains unclear if the agreement will make a difference on the ground. Syria has continued its bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters despite international condemnation and previous promises of reform.
In the last few minutes, we have had reports from diplomats inside of a breakthrough. That would indicate that the Syrians have indeed agreed to some of those stumbling blocks. It means that they have apparently agreed to withdraw tanks and armoured vehicles from cities and towns, they have agreed to a meeting with the opposition, importantly not in Damascus as they had been insisting but here in Cairo with the Arab League. They have agreed to let journlaists back into the country and they have agreed to a ceasefire as well as releasing political prisoners. If this is confirmed, which it should be just after the meeting breaks, it would indeed be pretty much everything that the Arab League had wanted from Damascus.
This would not be the first time, however, that the Assad regime has promised reforms. We'll know in short order whether the military pulls out of the Syrian communities. Also, opposition groups have expressed as much, more or, skepticism than we have, so it will be interesting to see whether the opposition is willing to meet with representatives of the regime, even if the meetings are in Cairo. Still, this could be the most significant development in thee reform effort since March.
1652 GMT: France24 interviews two Bahraini men who lost their eyes during protests when police fired "non lethal" weapons directly at the faces of protesters. These incidents are widely reported, and several people have died as a result of injuries to the eye. The report has subtitles in Egnlish:
1514 GMT: Al Jazeera's Nisreen El Shamayleh gives her latest report on today's violence in Syria. She confirms much of what we've already written (some of the details are in dispute), but adds that there has also been an explosion on a bus, reportedly carrying soldiers, in Deir Ez Zor:
1454 GMT: More troubling news from Kafr Laha, Syria - Earlier, we posted videos of 11 people who were killed, many of them partially decapitated, in a tissue factory. However, Amnesty International is reporting that before this incident, 9 people, Alawites and Christians, were pulled off of a nearby bus and killed. The bodies of the Sunni men found in the factory may have been a revenge killing, raising fears of sectarian violence.
Amnesty's Neil Sammonds is also reporting that as many as 10,000 to 15,000 defectors may have left the army, and so far the defectors who have taken up arms have concentrated on defending civilian areas:
1436 GMT: The Syrian military continues to maintain that they are using a targeted response to counter terrorists in places like Homs. According to activist Alexander Page, the people of Bab Amr, Homs, have been able to pick up so many spent bullets and empty casings from their residential neighborhoods that they've spelled out "Bashar Falls" in bullets.:
1431 GMT: Tanks in the streets of Khalidiya, Homs, as gunfire rings out:
1425 GMT: The general strike in Homs... It's hard to overstate the economic impact to certain cities and towns in Syria (most cities and towns in Syria):
1415 GMT: The LCCS posts this video, reportedly showing women in Douma at a funeral for martyr Maher Albubijee, when the army starts to shoot. It appears that the army was shooting warning shots, but we don't know those details yet:
1407 GMT: At least 1 person has been killed by the Syrian military in the Bab Amr district of Homs, and many are reportedly injured in the Wadi Al-Sayah area after tanks deployed in the streets and opened fire.
The LCCS is also reporting that Syrian soldiers raided a hospital in Kalaa Almadeek, Hama, arresting employees and possibly protesters. Gunfire and explosions have been heard in the area.
1350 GMT: The rights group Avaaz is reporting that 11 people have been beheaded in Kafr Laha, Syria (MAP). They have published the names of 8 of those killed, including the owner of the factory where the bodies were found. Avaaz is also claiming that there are signs of torture. An eyewitness who discovered the bodies has this report:
At around 8 this morning we discovered the massacre. The corpses had their hands tied, were gagged and the bodies were facing the wall. All of them were shot in the back of the head. We think the perpetrators used silencers on the weapons because there had been no sound of gunfire
1332 GMT: 9 people have died in Yemen in clashes between government forces and tribal military forces in Taiz. Al Jazeera is reporting that the tribesmen in Taiz do not know why the government began shelling there. They also post this video, showing the shelling of the city.
User-submitted video (very graphic) of what is believed to be student protesters in Kufur Laha, between Homs and Hama.
Sources tell Al Jazeera that the number of deaths - some beheaded, others executed - may be as high as 13.
Two main political umbrella organizations have recently emerged within the Syrian opposition: the Syrian National Council (SNC) chaired by Burhan Ghalioun and the Syrian National Coordination Committee (NCC) chaired by Hussein Abdel Azim.
The Syrian National Council is a group of political parties, movements, and independents. Its principal components are the Damascus Declaration Group (Syrian reformist intellectuals), the Muslim Brotherhood, representatives of the Istanbul Gathering (a group made up mainly of Islamists and independent technocrats), youth activists, individual Kurdish activists, and Assyrians. Minority groups such as the Alawites, Christians, Shia, and Druze are poorly represented.
The National Coordination Committee is an internal opposition bloc consisting of 13 left-leaning political parties and independent political activists including 3 Kurdish political parties and youth activists. The Syrian National Council offers a better constellation of the major political parties and movements in the opposition, and has been the object of most recent international attention. But neither of them can claim to be the sole interlocutor in the name of the Syrian opposition forces.
The two groups differ over the urgent questions of dialogue with the Syrian regime, foreign intervention, and non-violence. The NCC calls for dialogue conditional on the withdrawal of the military from the streets, the cessation of the regime attacks against protesters, and the release of all political prisoners. The SNC is opposed to a dialogue with the Assad regime except one that would address the modalities of the devolution of power from the Assad regime. While both the NCC and SNC are in principle opposed to foreign military intervention, the SNC membership is not united around this principle. Some SNC members, especially the youth activists, have been calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone and the protection of civilians including a NATO-led intervention akin to the one in Libya. The NCC prefers economic sanctions and other diplomatic measures in order to ratchet up pressure on the Syrian authorities.
1135 GMT: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has put out another pointed message to the Syrian regime.
Speaking at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party, Erdoğan said:
We had a friendship that began nine years ago but Syria failed to appreciate this. They [Syrian rulers] did not pay heed to our warnings....But we cannot remain silent in the face of this process. We will continue to display the necessary stance. I believe that the Syrian people will be successful in their glorious resistance.
Erdoğan continued, “The killing of one person is like the killing of all humanity, but unfortunately there is an administration [in Syria] that massacres and kills people, making them martyrs. This is an administration that relies on force. This is not an administration which depends on the nation’s will,"
Jahromi was seized at his home at 2:30 am on 14 April, reportedly beaten, and imprisoned for five months. Scholars at Risk claimed he has been denied access to his family, medical care for hepatitis C, and legal counsel for extended periods of time. He remains suspended from his position at Ahlia University.
Syrian State media reported on Tuesday that Damascus had accepted the Arab League's call for a cessation of hostilities.
1110 GMT: We started yesterday's LiveBlog with the claims of two Bahrain politicians that the regime would be seeking a new dialogue with its opponents.
The opposition site Manama Voice note that the regime is not amused at the apparent leak of information, claiming thatthe reports are "hysteria".
0830 GMT: We begin today with apologies for a late start this morning, as we post a series of features, and a glance at Egypt.
The ripples, at least in cyber-space, of the detention of blogger/activist Alaa Abd-El Fattah, continue to spread. Lina Attalah posts a powerful article for Al Masry Al Youm:
A long night of reporting about the Maspero violence that claimed 28 lives on 9 October ended with a heavy feeling of loss. A quick glimpse through one's Twitter feed revealed shock, sorrow and defeat. But amid this ominous moment, Alaa Abd El Fattah pounced into this virtual space with utmost poeticism. “Adununa nantasir,” “We shall be victorious,” he wrote.
I played the expression in my head like a lullaby. I recalled it every time an image surfaced in my mind from the morgue where the dead bodies from Maspero were kept....
Now, as Alaa sits in a military prison cell, held on accusations of fueling violence at Maspero, his words resonate with those of us on the outside. It is only because this revolutionary strength is threatening the status quo that he is incarcerated. Alaa saw victory when everyone else saw defeat.
Brian Whitaker writes, "Egypt's military may soon regret jailing Alaa Abd El Fattah":
By arresting him, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which is currently running Egypt (and increasingly being referred to as "the junta"), has picked a fight with the core of the movement that toppled President Mubarak in January. Leftists, liberals and Islamists have all been rallying to Alaa's support and it may not be long before the junta starts to regret its action.
There are two reasons why this could turn into a cause célèbre. One is a growing recognition that the military, after initially supporting the revolution, has been back-pedalling ever since and in some ways is even more repressive that the old Mubarak regime. Military trials of civilians such as Alaa are the most obvious sign of that.
The other factor is Alaa's own celebrity status which makes it easier to mobilise a campaign – unlike several other cases (Maikel Nabil andEssam Ali Atta, for example) which have been slower to take off. Alaa also has the benefit of name-recognition outside Egypt: every foreign journalist who covered the January uprising has probably heard of him, if not actually met him.
I am reminded of the case of Wael Ghonim, whose kidnapping, detention, and release --- to a dramatic television interview and then to an even more dramatic appearance in Tahrir Square --- were symbolic markers for the resistance to President Mubarak in January/February.
Is the case of Alaa Abd-El Fattah only a sensational but tangential flutter compared to that? Or is it --- as Brian Whitaker projects --- the catalyst of "a cause célèbre" for renewed activism for meaningful political change?