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Egypt, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Morsi Gives Back His Expanded Powers

2141 GMT: Bahrain. Whist the Crown Prince was calling for dialogue with the opposition at the Manama Dialogue conference, security forces in Bani Jamrah were seemingly captured in this video firing an excessive and continual volley of tear gas into the village:

On Tuesday in Bani Jamrah, police shot Aqeel Abdul Mohsen in the face. This evening, leading human rights activist Zainab AlKhawaja was arrested from Salminaya Hospital after attempting to visit Aqeel (see 1759 GMT entry).

1906 GMT: Egypt. In a press conference this evening, the opposition National Salvation Front has repeated its rejection of a 15 December referendum on the draft Constitution and has called on supporters to continue protests in all squares on Tuesday.

1759 GMT: Bahrain. Activist Zainab Alkhawaja has been arrested again, according to her sister and fellow activist Maryam.

Alkhawaja, detained on several occasions and shot on another since the start of the February 2011 mass protests, was seized at Salmaniya Medical Centre as she tried to see Aqeel Abdul Mohsen, who was shot in the face by police on Tuesday.

Alkhawaja and Said Yousif Almuhafda, Head of Monitoring for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, were allegedly harassed by police on Saturday when tried to enter Mehazza village, which has been blocked for days by security forces.

1751 GMT: Palestine. Leaders of Hamas and Fatah, often rivals for power, have called for fresh attempts at reconciliation process that has been stalled for more than a year.

In Gaza, Hamas political director Khaled Meshaal, in his first-ever trip to the area, said in a speech at Islamic University:

We want national unity in the armed resistance and popular resistance. I urge you towards reconciliation and national unity of the Palestinian ranks.

Palestine is too big for a single movement," he added. "Palestine is for all of us, we are partners in this nation. Hamas cannot do without Fatah or Fatah without Hamas, or any movement.

"We are under occupation, we need free and fair elections, then a national partnership to assume responsibilities," Meshaal said later during a meeting with families of those killed in last month's Israeli attacks.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, called at a meeting in Doha for reconciliation efforts to resume and for elections scheduled for 2011 to be held.

"Without these elections there will be no reconciliation," he said at an Arab League gathering.

1734 GMT: Turkey. Police detained about 80 people in three southeastern cities on Saturday, including Siirt Mayor Selim Sadak, in operations carried out against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).

Prosecutors claim the KCK is a political umbrella organization that includes the outlawed insurgent Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Many of the detainees are reportedly local officials from the pro-Kurdish

BDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş condemned the raids as part of the ruling Justice and Development Party's attempt to manipulate the next elections. He said police, intelligence forces, prosecutors, and AKP officials will be tried for the operations one day.

The prosecution of the KCK started in December 2009. Suspects are accused of various crimes, including membership in a terrorist organization, aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation, and attempting to destroy the country's unity and integrity.

The Government is trying to lift the Parliamentary immunity of 10 lawmakers, nine of them from the BDP, to prosecute them.

1641 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees report 72 people have been killed today, including 23 in Aleppo PRovince, 21 in Idlib Province, and 15 in Damascus and its suburbs.

1634 GMT: Egypt. President Morsi has raised taxes on 18 different items, including building licenses, cigarettes, alcohol, soft drinks, cell phone lines, tobacco, steel, cement, electricity, and diesel fuel.

Egypt pledged to raise taxes in an agreement for a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, pledging to cut its deficit from 11% of GDP in 2011/12 to 8.5% in 2013/14.

Rises include 10% on stock market profits, 18% on cell phone bills, 15% on fertilizer, 10% on rent, 200% on beer, and 150% on liquor.

1628 GMT: Syria. Activists claim nine state judges and prosecutors in the northern city of Idlib have defected to the opposition.

A video has been posted of the nine officials reading a statement explaining their decision and urging others to join them.

1620 GMT: Egypt. There now appears to be a stand-off at the wall built this morning to block protesters from reaching the gates of the Presidential Palace --- demonstrators are atop but Republican Guards are preventing from breaking through their ranks. Photo by Hassan Ammar of AP:

A shot of the wall earlier today:

1616 GMT: Syria. Claimed destruction of the Jobar section of Damascus from shelling today:

1522 GMT: Egypt. Activists are reporting that the Republican Guards are penning in a sit-in demonstration near the building, prevening anyone entering or leaving the area.

1459 GMT: Lebanon. The death toll from overnight fighting in the northern city of Tripoli, between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, is now six.

Another 40 people have been wounded, a security official said.

Clashes reportedly spread after a tense respite on Friday when the Lebanese military intervened (see 0925 GMT). Sunni residents of the Bab Al-Tebbaneh district exchanged machine gun and rocket fire with Alawite residents of the neighbouring Jabal Mohsen district, leaving two members of each community dead, the security official said.

1453 GMT: Kuwait. Following more protests on Saturday, activists have called for a camp outside Parliament next Saturday on the eve of its opening session.

Demonstrators are challenging revisions of the electoral law by the Emir before Parliamentary elections on 1 December, boycotted by the opposition. Thousands of people marched on Saturday calling for dissolution of the legislature as an un-democratic body.

1450 GMT: Syria. Witnesses say police used tear gas and batons to break up a protest in Khartoum by activists blaming authorities for the deaths of four students.

Officers moved in as more than 100 students marched towards the Ministry of Justice shouting "The people want to overthrow the regime."

Activists say the bodies of four student protesters were found in a canal near Gezira University, south of Khartoum, soon after a call for exemption from tuition fees. Police in Gezira State confirmed late on Friday that two students had been found dead in a canal and said a third was missing, but they insisted there were no signs of violence.

1430 GMT: Syria. Back from a Sunday break to find Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denying that he is speaking with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi about a transition which would include President Assad's departure from power, "We are not holding any talks on the fate of Assad."

The Foreign Minister said Russian and US diplomats are meeting today with Brahimi in Geneva, but there will be no consideration of Assad's departure.

Lavrov had a surprise meeting with Brahimi and Clinton in the Irish capital Dublin on Thursday, prompting speculation that Russia was looking towards a post-Assad future.

The Foreign Minister said, "All attempts to present the situation differently are rather shady, even for the diplomacy of those countries that are known for striving to distort facts in their own favour." He said those countries criticising Russia and China for vetoing UN Security Council resolutions on Syria were "dishonest".

1110 GMT: Egypt. One positive response to President Morsi's declaration on Saturday has come from the stock market, which rose more than 5% this morning.

The market had suffered heavy losses since Morsi issued the decree expanding his powers on 22 November.

The broader-based EGX 70 index rose by 2.08%. Out of 133 listed companies, 103 registered gains while only five incurred losses.

1105 GMT: Egypt. The opposition National Salvation Front has reiterated that President Morsi's revocation of his decrees is not sufficient --- a senior official said this morning, "One of our major demands is to postpone the vote on the constitution. Failing to respond to this will lead to more confrontation."

Ahmed Said, another leading Front member, said, "I cannot imagine that after all this they want to pass a constitution that does not represent all Egyptians."

Said said the Front would meet later on Sunday to make a formal response.

Meanwhile, a wall is being built around the Presidential Palace today, apparently to prevent a repeat of this week's protests at the palace gates.

1045 GMT: Tunisia. Rallies have backed the Government against a planned strike by the UGTT labour union (Photo: Khalil/AFP).

1035 GMT: Iraq. Reuters summarises the developing conflict in Kurdistan:

For three weeks, Kurdish "peshmerga" and soldiers of Baghdad's Arab army, have been reinforcing positions in the "disputed territories", a long, ill-defined swathe of northern Iraq, rich in oil and communal complexity, where the federal government and Kurdish leaders based in Arbil vie for control.

For all the flag-waving and warnings of war from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani, few believe either will risk an all-out conflict whose outcome would be uncertain and would disrupt both a flourishing economy in Kurdistan and oil exports that bring Baghdad vital revenues.

Rather, both are gaining from this, the second such flare-up in the year since U.S. troops quit Iraq, to consolidate their respective support among Arabs and Kurds for upcoming elections.

Maliki spoke this week of "unpredictable risks" as Kurdish troops brought up more tanks and artillery close to the oilfield city of Kirkuk: "If it will be a painful, shameful ethnic conflict," he said, warning of "dangerous dimensions".

Kurds accuse the Iraqi premier of "opening a Pandora's box".

0925 GMT: Lebanon. One person was killed and three injured overnight in Tripoli as clashes expanded in the northern city between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime.

Fighting was reported in Bab al-Tebbaneh, al-Bakkar, al-Chaarani, al-Hara al-Barraniyah, al-Rifa, al-Mankoubin, and al-Mallouleh, with shelling reaching areas beyond.

The Lebanese army reportedly was unable to stop the clashes.

0715 GMT: Syria. The military manoeuvring continued on Saturday, with little obvious change in the position as the regime shelled opposition-held towns and the insurgents gathered its forces. The Local Coordination Committees reported 129 deaths, 58 of them in Damascus and its suburbs, 20 in Idlib Province, and 18 in Aleppo Province.

0700 GMT: Egypt. President Morsi has annulled a decree he issued 17 days ago, expanding his powers.

However, the 15 December referendum on a draft Constitution would still be held, official Selim al-Awa said after a meeting between Morsi and other political leaders.

Initial indications were that opposition National Salvation Front, a coalition formed to challenge Morsi's recent moves, would not be satisfied with the President's partial retreat. Khaled Dawood, the Front's spokesman, said annulling the decree was "relatively meaningless":

The key issue of securing the process of adapting of the Constitution is done. Unfortunately I don't think the president is leaving us any other option than to escalate our opposition.

The April 6 Youth Movement, central in the uprising that toppled the Mubarak regime last year, dismissed the announcements as "a political manoeuvre aimed at duping the people". It called for the protests to continue to stop "the referendum on the constitution of the Muslim Brotherhood", the party of which Morsi was a senior member before becoming President.

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