After a chorus of “Egypt isn’t Tunisia” and “___ isn’t Egypt” it has become apparent that popular revolution is kind of contagious. In case you’re having trouble keeping track, here is a list of places where news happened today:
Algeria – Pro-democracy protesters plan to demonstrate against the regime tomorrow (Saturday) in spite of a promise from the government to repeal the 1992 emergency law. Police flooded the capital city Algiers to prevent demonstrations last weekend. According to the New York Times, the protest movement does not have widespread support, but “[c]onditions are ripe for revolt.” Stay tuned…
Bahrain – Security forces opened fire on protesters tonight, killing at least four people and wounding many more in the capital, Manama. Police have already shot and killed at least five protesters this week in an attempt to crack down on demonstrations calling for political and economic reform. A large crew of foreign journalists are on the ground there, reporting that the city’s main hospital is overwhelmed with casualties. For our American readers: Please note that the Fifth Fleet, which oversees all U.S. naval operations in the Middle East, is headquartered in Bahrain. This may explain the deafening silence from the U.S. over the last few days. After tonight’s incident, however, President Obama gave King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa a call to let him know that gunning down unarmed protesters is not the kind of behavior we like to see from our allies.
Djibouti – Thousands of people (in a country of under a million) hit the streets today to call for the resignation of president Ismail Omar Guelleh. Things got ugly tonight when stone-throwing protesters were tear-gassed by the police. Opposition leaders allege that police also fired on the crowd.
Iran – The government cracked down forcefully on rallies in support of Egypt’s revolution earlier this week. Following calls in Parliament for the arrest and/or execution of opposition leaders Hussein Moussavi and Mahdi Karroubi, Moussavi’s daughters report that they have not heard from their parents since Tuesday and fear they have been detained. The regime has called on its supporters to demonstrate against the protest movement today. In turn, the opposition has asked its followers to rally on February 20.
Iraq – The New York Times reports protests “calling for better government services, including more electricity, and in some cases, for local government officials to resign” in several cities throughout the country. While things have generally remained peaceful, as many as five people lost their lives yesterday when private security guards fired on the protesters in Sulaimaniya. For an eyewitness account, head on over to The Moving Silent.
Jordan – The ongoing protests turned violent today as pro-government forces clashed with demonstrators calling for constitutional reforms. Al-Jazeera reports that police stood by as government supporters attacked and beat peaceful protesters.
Libya – Following the arrest of human rights attorney Fathi Terbi on Tuesday (he was subsequently released) Libyans have taken to the streets to protest the Qaddafi regime. Initial reports in the international media suggested that the protests were directed against Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, but it’s pretty clear from the statements of local activists that they are in fact demonstrating against Qaddafi, who has been in power for a staggering forty-two years. As Najla Abdurrahman explains, the inaccurate reporting is “indicative of a much larger problem that Libyans have struggled with for decades.” She argues that the “virtual vacuum of information” created by Qaddafi’s “strict censorship policies, highly restrictive press laws, and uncompromising repression of even the slightest expression of dissent” poses “considerable obstacles for Libyans both inside and outside the country attempting to communicate their struggles to the world.” Despite the difficulties confirming information, it is clear from the most recent reports that the regime is violent repressing the protests. The death toll figures being mentioned are growing every few minutes (Amnesty International confirmed 46 deaths earlier today, Human Rights Watch now says 84), and the current word is that the government has turned off the internet. It’s not looking good.
Yemen – Despite concessions from President Ali Abdullah Saleh following opposition-organized protests in late January and early February, popular protests have continued, and have become increasingly violent. The official opposition has held back on affiliating itself with the movement, but has denounced the excessive force of the Saleh regime’s response.
Note: If you don’t have time to sit in front of Al Jazeera English all day or continually refresh Twitter, you can follow event using Blogs of War’s nifty crisis monitoring service. I like the general “revolution” feed, but you can specialize by country if you prefer.