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Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A University Under Curfew

A crowd in Tunisia marks the first anniversary of the downfall of the President "Ben Ali, assassin!"

See also Friday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: How Long Can This Go On?

1550 GMT: A Friday night protest in Imbaba against Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces:

1540 GMT: Footage of arrival of Syrian military in Kafrsita in Hama Province today:

1500 GMT: The Associated Press carries a report that a Syrian brigadier general, Mustafa Ahmad al-Sheikh, has escaped to Turkey, making him the highest-ranking officer to defect.

Mahmud Osman, a member of the Syrian National Council, said Saturday that al-Sheikh, the deputy commander in charge of Syria's northern army, fled to Turkey two weeks ago.

The news is actually a week old: on 6 January, EA featured this short address from al-Sheikh:

1445 GMT: The death toll in today's suicide bombing near Basra in southern Iraq (see 1100 GMT) is now at least 53 with at least 130 wounded.

The bombing came at the end of Arbain, one of the main religious observances in the Shi'ite calendar, as pilgrims were on their way to a large mosque to the west of Basra. The attacker wore a police uniform and carried fake police identification," according to a police official at the scene.

1422 GMT: A mass funeral procession in Dumair in Damascus Province for a 4-year-old child and 22-year-old Kassem Saad Saad:

The funeral of Mahmoud Mamduh Arabi in the Damascus suburb of Douma this afternoon:

1411 GMT: Clashes between rival Libyan militias, starting Friday and continuing today, have killed two people and wounded 16 in Gharyan, 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Tripoli.

1343 GMT: Badriya Ali, a woman in Sanabis in Bahrain has died after setting herself on fire on Friday. She had reportedly been distraught over the detention of her son, Ahmed Hassan Mushaima since April --- he was recently released but still faces trial.

1221 GMT: Mohamed El Baradei, Nobel Prize laureate and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has issued a statement that he is withdrawing from the Egyptian Presidential race.

El Baradei said he is quitting "to serve his nation more effectively, outside power and free from restrictions".

El Baradei criticised the existing leadership --- it is “as if no revolution took place and no regime has fallen" --- and declared, “My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a democratic framework.”

El Baradei concluded:

Only youth will rebuild this nation...the youth whose consciences have not been polluted by the corruption of the regime and its suppressive methods. Those youth are the dream and the hope and that’s why I will continue working with them in the coming period amid the mass of our people in order to enable them to effective participation in the political action in order for them to take the lead of Egypt in the near future and to achieve all the goals of the nation: Freedom, human dignity and social justice.

1218 GMT: A large anti-regime demonstration in the Kirnaz area of Hama in Syria this afternoon:

A march in Idlib:

1210 GMT: The Arab League is touring a prison in Damascus today --- an image, from Tim Marshall of Britain's Sky News, of their visit with the prison governor:

And an imprisoned dissident gives a victory sigh:

1200 GMT: Al Arabiya details the final moments of former President Ben Ali in Tunisia a year ago today, as he left the country for Saudi Arabia and never fulfilled his intention to return:

Colonel Samir al-Tarhouni of Tunisia's anti-terrorism Brigade and his team broke into the airport and prevented the Trabelsi family, Ben Ali’s in-laws, from leaving the country. Al-Tarhouni took this initiative without the permission of his officials in the Ministry of the Interior, so his actions were considered as a rebellion, especially as the vanguards of the National Guard abandoned their position in the palace and joined the other forces at the airport to participate in the operation that preoccupied the security leadership and sapped its efforts.

Meanwhile, the President’s wife arrived to the palace to bid farewell to her husband with her son Mohammed; however, in the midst of the panic and terror in the palace and as soon as he heard of the rebellion in the airport, the former President suddenly insisted on accompanying them to the military barracks in order to secure their departure. Afterward, the Presidential convoy, which counted nine cars, one of which was driven by Ben Ali’s wife Leila and carrying the president and his son, set off and arrived to the military barracks in Ouainia. The President got out of the car, parked in front of the Presidential plane that was refueling in the warehouse.

It was at that precise moment that the former president decided to travel to Jeddah with the intention of accompanying his family and then coming back home. Hence, the presidential plane took off escorted by armored cars on the runway.

1115 GMT: Reuters profiles anger in Algeria over poor housing:

Algeria is a major oil and gas exporter with more than $150 billion in foreign currency reserves accumulated over years of high energy prices.

Yet despite its wealth, the government has been unable to build new homes fast enough to satisfy millions of families who live in inadequate accommodation or to provide jobs for the millions of unemployed.

1110 GMT: On the anniversary of the fall of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, thousands have gathered along Tunis's main avenue, Habib Bourguiba, chanting, "With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice for the people" and "Ben Ali assassin!"

1100 GMT: A suicide bomber, dressed in a military uniform, killed at least 30 people and injured at least 80 near the southern Iraqi city of Basra this morning, as he detonated his explosives among a group of Shiite pilgrims.

1010 GMT: "Senior US officials" allege that the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards was in Damascus this month, as Tehran supplied munitions to the Syrian regime.

One official said, "We are confident that he was received at the highest levels of the Syrian government, including by President Assad. We think this relates to Iranian support for the Syrian government's attempts to suppress its people."

The official said, "The US government believes Iran has supplied Syria with munitions," but did not give details.

0740 GMT: The Emir of Qatar has said, in an interview to be aired Sunday on US television, that Arab troops should be deployed to Syria.

Asked, "Would you be in favor of Arab nations intervening in Syria?", the emir responded, "For such a situation to stop the killing...some troops should go to stop the killing."

0650 GMT: In Yemen, seven people were reportedly killed and 26 wounded on Friday in an attack by Central Security Forces on protesters in Aden :

0630 GMT: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has it will consider support of emergency aid from the International Monetary Fund, providing there are no conditions attached and alternatives are explored first.

Ashraf Badr El-Din, the head of the Brotherhood''s Economic Policy Committee, said, "There is no objection to borrowing. But it must be without conditions. And it should be in accordance with national priorities." He said preferable alternatives included repricing Egypt's gas export agreements, re-examining the use of special government funds, and collecting tax arrears.

With Egypt facing a currency crisis as its foreign reserves have fallen sharply, the military-backed government is about to start talks with the IMF on a loan package.

0620 GMT: A quieter Friday in Syria --- if 13 deaths, a clash between the military and defectors in Zabadani, and protests around the country can be called "quieter" --- was punctuated by developments at the university in Aleppo, Syria's second city which is generally thought to be a locus of regime support.

Security forces, supported by riot police and "shabiha" (plainclothes enforcers) broke up an anti-regime demonstration in the university dormitories, injuring and detaining protesters. A curfew was then imposed for the first time at the university.

Just a local occurrence or a sign of a wider problem for President Assad in the city?

Meanwhile, one of a series of loud, large rallies across Aleppo Province last night --- the crowd in Bayanoun call for the toppling of Assad:

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