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Monday
Oct102011

Egypt Feature: At Least 24 Die in Fighting over Christian March in Cairo

Scenes before and after the violence around the march in Cairo (Photos: EPA)

See also Sunday's Egypt LiveBlog: At Least 19 Killed in Clashes Over Christian March


The death toll from Sunday night's clashes in Cairo, centred around a march by mostly Coptic Christians, is now at least 24 with more than 180 injured. 

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Sunday
Oct092011

Egypt Latest: At Least 19 Killed in Clashes Over Christian March 

Armoured vehicles drive into the crowd in Cairo


2220 GMT: The Ministry of Health now reports 23 dead and 174 injured. A curfew has been called for 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. in central Cairo.

2120 GMT: A pair of juxtaposed images tell a story of the night --- a wife is shown in the first with her new husband, in the second she is holding his hand in the morgue:

2100 GMT: Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has stated on his Facebook page: "What is happening now is not clashes between Christians and Muslims. Rather, it is an attempt to sow chaos and strife."

There are reports of hundreds of people attacking the Coptic Hospital in Ramses, where scores of injured are hospitalised, smashing cars when they could not get into the hospital.

An eye-witness reports a police pick-up truck charging protesters attempting to get to Tahrir Square. Small groups of demonstrators are re-grouping in the surrounding streets.

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Sunday
Oct092011

Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: An Activist's Death Sparks Protests

Demonstration in Aleppo, Syria last night, expressing solidarity with the slain Meshaal Tammo


Bahrain Special: Zainab Omran Tells Her Story of Abuse in Detention --- Part 2
Yemen Feature: Nobel Prize Winner Karman "Our Revolution is Uniting Yemen"
Bahrain Special: Zainab Omran Tells Her Story of Detention at City Center Mall
Saturday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: A Celebration in Yemen, A Killing in Qamishli


2217 GMT: Mohammad Sudam, a Reuters correspondent in Yemen, was kidnapped on Saturday night in Sana’a by forces loyal to defected General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, according to Ministry of Defence announced on Sunday.

Sudam, who is also a translator for President Saleh, was arrested at a checkpoint run by Al Ahmar’s troop as he travelled from Sana’a airport to his house.

The Yemen Journalist’s Syndicate condemned the arrest of Sudam and called for his immediate release.

2215 GMT: We are getting unconfirmed reports that the Syrian military is shelling Homs, the country's third-largest city, tonight. It is impossible to verify this at the moment, as almost all communication with the city is cut off.

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Sunday
Oct092011

The Latest from Iran (9 October): The Battle Within

Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai and his spiritual mentor, Ayatollah Hadi Ghazanfari Khansari, reportedly sentenced to 10 years in prison

See also Iran Opinion: Is Tehran Immune from the Arab Spring?


2205 GMT: Reformist Watch. Former President Mohammad Khatami has demanded a strong Parliament to oppose dictatorship and to ensure elections for all people.

2145 GMT: Promise of the Day. Iran Police Chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, "If information about 80% of youth having sexual relations and 20% drinking alcohol are true, I will resign."

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Sunday
Oct092011

US Feature: The Secret Memo Justifying The Assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki (Savage)

A personal note on this story by Charlie Savage of The New York Times --- on Saturday, I heard a well-placed US official express pride that the Obama Administration had abolished the phrase "War on Terror" and then, moments later, declare that Washington fought itself in an ongoing wars with extremists and terrorists.

The official then proceeded to lay out the rationalisation summarised below for drone strikes from Pakistan to Yemen and the killing of Anwar al-Awalki, though he insisted that this was not "assassination": anyone "taking part in the war between the United States and Al Qaeda and posed a significant threat to Americans" is a legitimate target.

Note, however, this sentence in the article --- a point which was not addressed by the official I heard --- "the memorandum does not independently analyze the quality of the evidence against" someone marked out for death....

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Sunday
Oct092011

Iran Opinion: Is Tehran Immune from the Arab Spring? (Metghalchi)

Iran has so far remained relatively unaffected by the winds of change that have swept through the Middle East and North Africa. Yet this was not a foregone conclusion. Given the opposition’s ability to build on a recent wave of mobilisation to revive the calls for protests triggered in 2009, why has it not taken advantage of the regional domino effect?

The Green Movement, too often over-emphasised by outsiders as a panacea for Iran’s democratic future, failed to draw its lessons from the crushed 2009 protests. Today it remains too divided and ambiguous to constitute the key driver of change from within. Instead, Iran’s potential for democratic change may largely depend on ongoing regional developments. In particular, the fall of the Assad regime in Syria would weaken the Iranian regime by isolating it regionally and fostering further splits within its leadership, thereby enhancing the prospects of political change.

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Sunday
Oct092011

Bahrain Special: Zainab Omran Tells Her Story of Abuse in Detention

On Friday, we published the first part of Zainab Omran's story of her detention during protests at City Centre Mall in Manama on 23 September. This is the second part of her testimony, as she and 44 other women endure abuse in several police centres:

After three hours [waiting on the road outside City Center Mall] the bus arrived to take us. They kept us in a single row. we were forced to raise our heads to be shown by one of the television broadcasters while we went in the bus.

One of my relatives and I could not believe what was happening and began to laugh when they insulted us. One of the policewomen pointed at me and said: "What is wrong with this girl? Why, she smiles a lot."

The bus accommodated 15 people. We were 21 women in addition to seven policewomen, so they sat on top of some women with children .

Women police officers began to beat us, focusing mainly on the head and the face. We received a tremendous amount of slaps and beatings. The bus was for them a  court where they can step and move on our feet and our bodies.

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Saturday
Oct082011

The Latest from Iran (8 October): Declaring an Awakening

Mehdi Karroubi & His Granddaughter1920 GMT: Environment Watch. Minister of Energy Majid Namjoo has said basic studies for construction of a dam near Lake Urmia (Oroumiyeh) have been halted.

Activists have claimed that Iran's dams have contributed to the drying-up of Lake Urmia, which has lost more than half of its volume in recent years, but Namjoo said around 85% of problems in the lake's problems are from the "natural, inevitable phenomenon" of drought.

After widespread protests this summer over the situation, the Iranian Government finally agreed to allocate $900 million to measures to protect the lake, and Namjoo said recently that Iran had agreed with its northern neighbors to transfer water from its sector of the Araz River.

1910 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Radio Zamaneh sets out the story of the visit of opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi, held under strict house arrest since mid-February, with his son Hossein's family.

Hossein Karroubi wrote on his Facebook page that, while his family was celebrating his daughter’s entry into university, which coincided with Mehdi Karroubi’s birthday, six security officials brought his father to their home and allowed him to stay with the family for an hour.

Hossein Karroubi said his father’s morale was high but he appeared thinner. Mehdi Karrobui said he had lost weight from pacing up and down in the small apartment where he is being held.

Radio Zamaneh also posts an undated photograph of Mehdi Karroubi with his granddaughter (see inset picture).

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Saturday
Oct082011

Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: A Celebration in Yemen, A Killing in Qamishli

1945 GMT: One of many "We are All Meshaal Tammo" demonstrations tonight in Syria, commemorating the Kurdish activist who was killed yesterday. In the Bab Amr section of Homs, a large crowd chant "Azadi (Freedom)" and "The Syrian people are one":

1845 GMT: Al Jazeera English shows footage of security forces firing on marchers at the funeral of Kurdish activist Meshaal Tammo. Up to five people were killed, according to activists (see 1610 GMT):

And video of gunfire in the Damascus suburb of Douma after the funeral of Osama Al-Shayfouni:

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Saturday
Oct082011

US-Afghanistan Feature: Why the Arms Deal for Uzbekistan is Wrong

Islam Karimov and Hillary ClintonChanging the supply route from Pakistan to Uzbekistan does not change much on the ground. Pakistan will continue to send Taliban insurgents into Afghanistan. The Afghan government will continue being corrupt. The warlords will continue enjoying their free rein. The only thing that changes is that Islam Karimov will have American weapons to oppress Uzbeks.

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