Iron-fisted authorities in Belarus have responded to a burst of creative modes of protest by young protesters with a rather surreal innovation of their own: a law that prohibits people from standing together and doing nothing.
A draft law published Friday prohibits the “joint mass presence of citizens in a public place that has been chosen beforehand, including an outdoor space, and at a scheduled time for the purpose of a form of action or inaction that has been planned beforehand and is a form of public expression of the public or political sentiments or protest".
1555 GMT: Insurgent claim they have surrounded Tiji, the last stronghold of regime forces in the western mountains of Libya.
An estimated 500 regime troops are stationed in Tiji. The blasts of gunfire and shelling by tanks could be heard from the nearby town of Hawamid, taken by the opposition on Thursday as it moved through the mountains, claiming several towns and villages.
1550 GMT: A Syrian army colonel has allegedly said that he has defected with "hundreds" of soldiers and has warned the regime against launching a crackdown on the eastern city of Deir Ez Zor. The man, identifying himself as Colonel Riad al-Asaad, said in a telephone call to AFP that he was speaking from inside Syria "near the Turkish border".
Al-Assad delcared, "I warn the Syrian authorities that I will send my troops to fight with the (regular) army if they do not stop the operations in Deir ez-Zor."
Earlier the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said soldiers shot dead three stone-throwers as a convoy of 60 military vehicles made its way towards Deir Ez Zor.
1350 GMT: A series of videos of the actions of security forces on Friday....
Near Daraa in the south, a man is apparently hit by gunfire from Syrian troops --- others in the group pull him away and put him on a motorcycle:
Turkey’s military command echelon resigned late Friday from their posts amid an ongoing spat with the government over the growing number of arrested generals. The mass resignations, which marked a first in the country’s history, immediately caused a state crisis.
Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner, Land Forces Commander Gen. Erdal Ceylanoğlu, Air Forces Commander Gen. Hasan Aksay and Naval Forces Commander Adm. Eşref Uğur Yiğit quit their posts days before the Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, was supposed to meet to discuss key military promotions. Koşaner had another two years left in the office.
Gendarmerie Forces Commander Necdet Özel did not resign.
The resignations came hours after a prosecutor demanded the arrest of a top military official, Gen. Hüseyin Nusret Taşdeler, the commander of the Aegean Army. Sources said disagreements over promotions and the arrests of numerous generals peaked to an unacceptable level following the legal action against Taşdeler.
Tensions between the military and the government have been high in recent years as hundreds of high-ranking officers were put behind bars in the ongoing “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) and Ergenekon coup-plot cases.
1700 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch (cont.). And for the most distinctive source of criticism today, consider the head of Iran's armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, who has told Fars, "Subsidy refunds and justice shares should not be abused for campaigning."
That is a pointed jab at President Ahmadinejad, accused of using "justice shares" --- dividends from state holdings handed out to the public --- to influence votes in the 2009 Presidential election, and his allies, accused of wanting to do the same in the 2012 and 2013 Parliamentary and Presidential ballots.
1600 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Even amidst the frequent criticism of the President these days, this blast from Ahmad Salek of the Society of Militant Clergies is rather special:
Hopefully the djinns around Ahmadinejad aren't British, Israeli, and Russian....Obama & Netanyahu supported him because Ahmadinejad shares the same beliefs....Ahmadinejad sat at home with 25 million votes [in the disputed 2009 election], but people didn't support him because the Islamic Republic has its own management."
There is an interesting narrative emerging from the contentious debt limit discussions in Washington: tesponsible politicians from both sides of the aisle have been blocked in their attempts to craft a successful deal by irresponsible, or in Senator John McCain's language, "bizarro" Tea Party politicians.
In the short term that is a fair assessment, possibly without the "bizarro", but in the long term it is a woeful explanation of the present inadequacies of Congress and the President in facing America's debt and deficit problems.
That ordinary Syrians have braved bullets and tanks to take to the streets for 18 consecutive weeks seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad is an indicator of their movement’s resilience. Courage is one quality the protesters do not lack.
Just about every other ingredient that usually goes into building a revolution — organization, strategy or leadership — is still missing, however.
The nationwide uprising that erupted spontaneously on the streets of Syrian cities remains a largely ad hoc affair, inspired by the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, driven by anger and frustration with decades of dictatorship, but lacking a clear direction or structure beyond the unanimous demand that Assad should go.
I do not know if Khamenei has made a decision that something needs to be done to reduce his workload and develop processes that can resolve at least some of the issues without him, or if he is just trying to give the impression that he is doing something while enjoying the dynamics that give his office all the powers of the world --- even at the cost of institutional degradation and administrative chaos in the country.
On this one we just have to wait and see.