In Shadow of Libya, Protests Continue in Yemen, Oman, Bahrain
As world attention has become more focused on the dramatic upheaval rocking Libya, demonstrators have maintained pressure on governments elsewhere in the region, including Yemen and Bahrain, both allies of the U.S. Here are recent developments in some of those countries.
Protesters are hoping to garner momentum in anti-government protests in the streets of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, where thousands gathered Tuesday. The protests were comprised of those calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and loyalists defending his government. A cleric accused by the U.S. of having ties to al Qaida called for the replacement of Saleh and the formation of an Islamic state. The move is a departure from largely secularist protests elsewhere in the region. Yemen has been an ally of the U.S. in fighting al Qaida groups operating within the country and is the recipient of military assistance.
Organizers are calling for protests in Tehran after the reported arrest of two key opposition figures, Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karrubi, who are believed to have been taken to prison, along with their wives, on Monday. News agencies in Iran have denied the report, although both men have been closely watched since protesters took to the streets on Feb. 14. Fearing popular protests like those roiling Egypt and other parts of the region, the demonstrations have been met with a tough government response. There were mass demonstrations in Tehran in 2009 after a disputed presidential election; those were also quelled by a crackdown.
Some 700 protesters block the access to Oman’s second biggest port on Feb. 28, 2011 in Sohar, more than 200 kms (125 miles) northwest of Muscat, preventing the movement of vehicles in or out. Fresh clashes erupted between Omani police and protesters, a day after police killed at least one as the turmoil rocking the Arab world reached the normally calm Gulf sultanate. (KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)
Three days of protests have brought troops into the streets of the port town of Sohar, north of the capital, Muscat. Demonstrators are calling for more jobs and better wages. The country’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, has offered a monthly stipend for the unemployed and promised to create 50,000 civil service jobs in an effort to meet protesters’ demands. Though relatively small, the protests are rare in Oman, which shares control of the oil-trafficked Strait of Hormuz and maintains close ties with both Tehran and Washington, making it an important go-between for the rivals.
Protesters in largely Shiite-populated Bahrain have continued their calls for an end to the Sunni al Khalifa monarchy in the island nation, which has been in place for some two centuries. A planned march on Pearl Square in the center of the capital, Manama, was planned for Tuesday. Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet.
Demonstrations continued over the weekend in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave his Cabinet 100 days to implement changes or be fired. Protesters have demanded jobs and better basic services, a chronic problem in Iraq. Organizers are calling for further protests next weekend to mark the one-year anniversary of parliamentary elections. At least 17 have died in clashes in several cities and more injured as the discontent has rattled al Maliki’s young coalition government.
CNN has a country-by-country guide to protests large and small in the Middle East and North Africa.
In the wake of an uprising that pushed former president Hosni Mubarak from power, Egypt’s top prosecutor announced the government is freezing Mubarak’s assets and banning him from leaving the country as an investigation into suspicion of corruption continues. The exact amount of his assets is unknown, with some estimates in the billions, but many see the move as, at minimum, a symbolic move against him as the population watches the new military government for signs in promised reform.