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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Security Council Vetoes --- What's Next?

Protesters in Aleppo burn the Russian flag on Saturday night

See also Bahrain Special: Who Exactly is Ill-Informed? And How Did That Happen?
Bahrain Feature: Problems for the Financial Sector?
Saturday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Hundreds Dead in Homs as Regime Strikes

2250 GMT: A demonstration tonight in the Dummar section of the Syrian capital Damascus:

2030 GMT: A march in the Yemeni capital Sana'a today, expressing solidarity with the Syrian people:

2025 GMT: In Bahrain, thousands gather tonight for the week-long sit-in protest calling for rights and release of political prisoners:

2015 GMT: AFP reports from activists that 56 people, including 28 civilians, have been killed in Syria today.

2010 GMT: Hundreds of Egyptian mothers staged a protest march on Sunday to demand that newly-elected MPs put a stop to the killing of political activists by security forces and expedite the prosecution of anyone found guilty of using undue violence against unarmed protesters.

About 200 women, most dressed in black, marched from the Cabinet offices in downtown Cairo to the nearby Parliament building. Many held banners with slogans such as, "Enough killing, enough lies," and "Egypt will remain in mourning until there is retribution".

1715 GMT: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued a strong criticism of the Russian and Chinese vetoes of the UN Security Council measure for action in the Syrian crisis:

What happened yesterday at the United Nations was a travesty. Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people's right to have a better future. We will work to expose those who are still funding the regime and sending it weapons to be used against defenceless Syrians, including women and children.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said troops and army defectors clashed in Idlib Province in the northwest and Daraa Province in the south, claiming nine soldiers were killed in Idlib.

The Local Coordination Committees said nine people were killed Sunday across the country.

Meanwhile, hundreds of regime supporters held a rally in a Damascus square, waving Russian and Chinese flags in gratitude for their blocking the UN resolution.

1459 GMT: Protesters have attacked the Russian embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli, tearing down the Russian flag, in anger at Moscow's veto of an United Nations Security Council resolution for action in the Syrian crisis.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has criticised Moscow and Beijing for their vetoes at the United Nations, “Russia and China did not vote based on existing realities but more as a reflex to [the] West. Veto power should not be used from this perspective. By vetoing a very softly worded resolution, what kind of message are we sending to the Syrian people and the region?”

1448 GMT: Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of Libya's former leader, could go on trial "within weeks or months", Minister of Interior Fawzy Abdilal has said.

Abdilal said Qaddafi's case will be handed to the courts as soon as the prosecutor general completes his investigations.

Human Rights Watch said after visiting Qaddafi, who was captured last November, that he should have a lawyer, but Abdilal implied he had not asked for one: "He may have a lawyer if he asks for a lawyer. Should Saif demand a lawyer, then a lawyer would be provided."

Abdilal denied that authorities are torturing detainees, "[There are] not systematic violations as there were under the Qaddafi regime," although he added, "There may be cases of individuals who take the law into their own hands."

Abdilal insisted, "There is no comparison whatsoever between the situation prevailing under Moammar Qaddafi and the situation now."

Meanwhile, the first trial after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, has opened in a military court in Benghazi.

Forty-one defendants, mostly civilians, are accused of supporting the Qaddafi regime in its attempts to crush the popular revolt, as well as helping prisoners to escape and setting up "criminal gangs".

The hearing ended with an adjournment to 15 February.

1439 GMT: Bahraini opposition societies have launched a week-long "sit-in" for political reforms, with more than 10,000 people attending a rally outside the capital Manama.

Poetess Ayat al-Qurmezi, briefly detained last spring for reading out a poem criticising the King, said, "This is a dress rehearsal for the return. We will return! We will return! Soon our sit-in will not be here but at the Pearl Roundabout."

Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the the largest opposition soceity Al Wefaq, called on activists to keep the protests peaceful but warned that intelligence agencies and pro-regime militias would act as agent provocateurs in coming weeks. He said activists should use only Bahraini flags over the coming week and should avoid using party or sectarian symbols.

Salman said, "This people will not calm down and there will be no calm or stability while [political prisoners] are behind bars. These symbolic figures did not call for violence or use violence. They expressed views that you can agree with or not, but that's part of freedom of expression. The verdicts were based on confessions under torture. The verdicts are void."

Security forces have fired tear gas on protesting youths in Ma'ameer in Bahrain:

1427 GMT: Egyptian State TV is reporting that 40 people --- 21 Egyptians and 19 American nationals --- will stand trial over illegitimate funding of non-government organisations.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatened a cut-off of American military aid because of the raids of the NGOs and ban on their staff travelling outside Egypt (see 0903 GMT).

Egyptian security forces have constructed three new walls around the Ministry of Interior, after another night of clashes with protesters.

On Thursday protesters, angered by the deaths of 74 people at a football match in Port Said, demolished a barricade on Mohamed Mahmoud Street. However, there are now eight concrete barriers in downtown Cairo.

The Central Security Forces began building the first 12-foot concrete block wall at approximately 3 a.m. Unidentified groups have now formed human chains separating protesters from police, chanting, “Those who love Egypt should not destroy Egypt,” to enforce a ceasefire which started at 2 p.m.

Three more police stations around Egypt were attacked late Saturday night. In Ismailia, two policemen were killed and three injured, including the police chief of Abu Soweir Police Station, when armed Bedouins attacked the station.

1357 GMT: Back from a weekend break to find video of a shell falling on the Bab Amro section of Homs in Syria. Reports indicate that the assault, which began at 8 a.m., has killed three people and injured 40 so far.

Video of a march in Rastan, near Homs, celebrating the "liberation" of the town --- members of the Free Syrian Army are in the procession:

A massive gathering for a funeral in Daraa Province for a victim of the security forces:

1051 GMT: Journalist Tom Finn reports from Yemen, "Thousands of men and women marching through downtown Sana'a shouting, 'Syria, Syria!' Posters of Assad with red paint smeared on his hands."

0903 GMT: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has reportedly warned her Egyptian counterpart, Mohammed Amr, of the consequences of Cairo's crackdown on pro-democracy non-governmental organisations.

After a meeting at an international security conference in Munich, Clinton told reporters:

We are very clear that there are problems that arise from this situation that can impact all the rest of our relationship with Egypt. We do not want that. We have worked very hard this past year to put in place financial assistance and other support for the economic and political reforms that are occurring in Egypt. We will have to closely review these matters as it comes for us to certify whether any of these funds from our government can be made available under these circumstances.

The U.S. is due to give Egypt $1.3 billion in military assistance and $250 million in economic aid in 2012.

In December, Egyptian officials and security forces raided 10 NGOs, including the US-funded National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute and Freedom House, on the grounds that the NGos might be receiving foreign funds inappropriately. Subsequently, Cairo blocked 11 American staff of the NDI and IRI from leaving Egypt.

0900 GMT: The Wall Street Journal highlights an incident in Yemen in the political and media battle:

Independent-minded Yemeni journalists lost a small yet politically significant battle after armed regime loyalists helped invade the nation's flagship newspaper and forcibly reinstated the ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh's image at the top of Friday's newspaper.

The conflict at al Thawra newspaper between a hard-core group of reformers and regime supporters underscores the uncertainty facing the country during its political transition.

Late Thursday night, about 40 pro-regime journalists from al Thawra and other government newspapers, supported by a group of armed men, entered the newsroom and took over the publication, according to three senior journalists at the paper. They retrieved the old masthead from the computer files and hastily wrote multiple stories in favor of President Saleh, which appeared in Friday's edition of the paper, according to Mohammed Shubaita, a senior al Thawra journalist present in the newsroom.

0650 GMT: We begin in Syria, where there was a double story on Saturday. As those inside the country took in and reacted to the news of hundreds of deaths in Homs --- 61 more people were killed there yesterday, among 91 slain across Syria --- Russia and China were blocking a United Nations resolution criticising the Assad regime and supporting the Arab League's call for a political transition and end to the violence.

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Ambassador  said the vetowas necessary because it "sent an unbalanced signal to the Syrian parties", with the 13 Security Council members voting Yes "calling for regime change, pushing the opposition towards power". Li Baodong, the Chinese representative to the UN, said further consultation was needed.

But is this outcome really at the forefront of the Syrian developments? In his analysis last night, James Miller offered the reminder that the primary narrative was the challenge within the country, and then he noted the "foreign" dimension beyond the UN, Moscow, and Beijing.

Now that the Assad military is on the offensive, and there does not appear to be a mechanism in place to trigger international intervention, it is once again hard to imagine how, or when, this crisis will end. But the Free Syrian Army, and the peaceful protesters, proved something in the last month --- the opposition is growing, it is stronger than ever, and it will only grow more resistant in the face of such violence....

The chances of international intervention are lessened, but I still believe that some powers will eventually step in, even if this will take longer now that Russia and China have vetoed action.

Watch, for example, the next moves of the Arab League. Remember that Turkey has a vital interest in developments. Consider the signals in the vocal denunciations of the Assad regime by Britain, France, and the US --- just before the Security Council vote, President Obama put out a statement calling in no uncertain terms for Assad to go.

And remember that intervention is not just overt. Quieter forms of support, beyond a United Nations resolution, are likely already being undertaken. How far these go is important, not because they replace the internal dynamic --- highlighted by Miller --- but because they contribute to it.

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