Saturday, April 09, 2011

9-Apr-11: A day in the life of the Middle East: [Fill in country name] government forces execute massacres of own citizens

Another day, another cluster of massacres in the Islamic Middle East.

Note how each of these reports from today's media (one single day's worth of news) follows the familiar format of armed-to-the-teeth government forces killing their own citizens.

Syrian city of Deraa hit by deadly clashes [BBC]
At least 23 protesters have been killed during anti-government rallies in the southern Syrian city of Deraa, witnesses have told the BBC. There are also unconfirmed reports of deaths in Homs, Duma and Harasta, as protests swept the country. However, state-run Syrian TV said that 19 members of the security forces had been killed "by armed groups" in Deraa. Deraa has been a focus of unrest since anti-government protests erupted across Syria in mid-March. The protests have posed an unprecedented challenge to President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year rule. He has offered to consider reforms, but activists say his proposals do not go far enough.
Syria again
Syrian Forces Open Fire on Demonstrators in Two Cities [New York Times]
Syrian security forces fired live ammunition at protesters in two cities on Saturday, a day after the single bloodiest day of Syria’s three-week anti-government uprising. In Dara, the security forces fired to disperse a funeral march for some of the 37 people killed in protests across the country a day earlier, a human rights group said. Several people were wounded, said Ammar Qurabi, who runs Syria’s National Organization for Human Rights... Earlier, the security forces fired live ammunition to break up a sit-in in the port city of Latakia, the heartland of Syria’s ruling elite... Latakia is significant because it lies in a province that has strong historical ties to the minority Alawite sect of President Bashar al-Assad.
Gadaffi forces pound Ajdabiya [Herald-Sun/Australia]
FORCES loyal to Libyan leader Moamar GadaFfi have pounded the strategic oil town of Ajdabiya with heavy fire. In Misrata, rebels said at least eight of their fighters were killed by government forces after a Red Cross ship docked there earlier with critical supplies. Al Jazeera said there were reports Ajdabiya, considered a gateway to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, was on the brink of falling to government troops. The town was being hammered from the north, south and west... As for Gadaffi himself, state television showed him visiting a school in Tripoli, where young students shouted their support. Sky News, which rebroadcast the pictures, was unable to immediately confirm when the film was made. The Libyan leader has rarely been seen in public since the uprising against his government began in February.
At least 14 protesters shot in Yemen [Sydney Morning Herald]
Police fired volleys of live rounds at demonstrators in Taez on Saturday, in what local residents said was some of the worst violence since anti-regime protests broke out in Yemen in January. At least 14 people were shot and wounded, three of them seriously, while at least 300 others needed treatment for tear-gas inhalation, medics said. Witnesses said security forces attacked the anti-regime protesters who were gathered near the government offices of the flashpoint city, south of Sanaa. The latest violence came after four protesters were shot dead and more than 100 others wounded in Taez during clashes on Friday that carried on overnight into Saturday.
2 Protesters Are Killed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square [New York Times]
Egypt’s security forces shot and killed at least two protesters and injured dozens more in a predawn attempt Saturday to disperse peaceful demonstrators spending the night in the capital’s iconic Tahrir Square, according to government security officials and witnesses. The crackdown was the most brutal since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11 and since the military started running the country. The military on Saturday denied that anyone had been killed and described the protesters in the square as “thugs.” It also appeared to be trying to distance itself from the violence, saying the forces in the square were police officers under the control of the Interior Ministry. But the army’s recounting of the events was contrary even to a report from the Ministry of Health, which reported that one person had died. The violence is likely to pose new challenges for the military, which has faced increased anger from civilians after widespread allegations that it has tortured protesters in recent weeks and that it is moving too slowly to replace holdovers from Mr. Mubarak’s authoritarian rule.
The moment that the Egyptian police opened fire is captured in this startling video.

An Iranian news source quoting Bahrain's Interior Ministry says two protesters died in police custody on Saturday of injuries sustained during a crackdown on demonstrators. The Bahrain Center of Human Rights says the Bahrain authorities have detained nearly 800 protesters, including at least 25 women since protests demanding an end to the rule of the Al Khalifa dynasty began on February 14.

Each of the reports above was published today. One day. And by no means an atypical one. (We're not even going to mention the daily bloodbath in Iraq.)

So how does the Arab world deal with this? The roof body of the Arab countries, the Arab League, is responding, predictably, to these Arab-on-Arab killings in the time-honored way  by convening an urgent meeting on Sunday to discuss... Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.
"We will discuss Israel's escalating steps and aggressions against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and the Israeli insistence on destroying the peace process," said Mohamed Sobeih, the Arab League assistant secretary general for Palestinian Affairs and Occupied Arab Lands. [Full report at this Egyptian source]
Now remind us please what Israel is supposed to learn from its neighbours in the region?

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