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Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Top Arab Spring Stories Today

Top Arab Spring Stories Today
by Juan Cole, September 19, 2011

Yemeni security forces killed 24 protesters on Sunday as the conflict between partisans of wounded president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his detractors escalated. Anti-Saleh protesters in Sanaa are taking their demonstrations to new neighborhoods, and are meeting sniper fire from security forces. On Saturday, thousands of protesters headed toward the university campus in the capital.

Leaks suggest that Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will set elections for the lower house of the Egyptian parliament to begin on November 21. There will be three rounds, ending in January 2011. Then elections for the upper house will be held. Democracy activists had been worried that the SCAF was getting too attached to power and worried about the vagueness of proposed election dates.

Demonstrations continued this weekend in Syria, despite security forces raids on neighborhoods of Deraa and Hama. Four persons injured by security forces died on Sunday. The opposition selected a council on Saturday, though it is not the only claimant to being an alternative voice to that of the regime. Syrian protesters continued to reject the idea of foreign military intervention in their country.

In Libya, the emerging new order continued to face challenges. The Transitional National Council tried and failed to appoint a new cabinet on Saturday because consensus could not be achieved. Meanwhile, fighting in the cities of Sirte and Bani Walid seesawed.

Thousands of protesters came out in Bahrain on Saturday and there was substantial unrest in Shiite villages in the rural areas of the main island, as demonstrators rebuked the Sunni monarchy for the death in suspicious circumstances of a protester last week.

Five Tunisians trying to commit suicide were rescued by crowds, after the former tried and failed to get jobs as teachers in the rural southwest. Tunisia’s revolution, which inspired the rest of the Arab Spring, began with the suicide of Mohammad BuAzizi, who was reduced to selling vegetables from a carte despite being educated. The turmoil in Tunisia has hurt the country’s economy, ironically if very many of last winter’s protesters were complaining about lack of jobs. Tourism is way off, and even factory production is down.

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