Stephanie McCrummen / Washington Post – 2011-02-27 00:33:36
One Day in the Middle East
People Killed by Government in Libya: 2
People Killed by Government in Bahrain: 3
People Killed by Government in Yemen: 17
People Killed by Government in Iraq: 19
Demonstrations in Iraq (Day of Rage) 2/25-2011
19 People Die in Demonstrations in Iraq
Stephanie McCrummen / Washington Post
BAGHDAD (February 26, 2011) — At least 19 people were killed in Iraq on Friday as tens of thousands defied an official curfew to join a nationwide “Day of Rage,” echoing protests that have roiled the Middle East and North Africa since January.
Despite pleas by the government and Shiite religious leaders for Iraqis to stay home, demonstrators gathered by the hundreds and thousands from Basra in the south to Mosul and Kirkuk in the north.
Protesters expressed anger and rage at local leaders as well as at Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, storming provincial government offices in several cities and calling for more jobs, electricity and clean water, better pensions and medical care.
Security forces used tear gas, water cannons, sound bombs and at times live bullets to disperse the crowds. Fatalities were reported in Mosul, Fallujah, Tikrit and a town near Kirkuk, when security forces opened fire on demonstrators who were surrounding – or in some cases storming – government buildings. There were also clashes in Ramadi.
In the southern province of Basra, about 10,000 demonstrators forced the resignation of the provincial governor. In Fallujah, protesters forced the resignation of the entire city council.
In Baghdad, where al-Maliki imposed a curfew that banned cars and even bicycles from the streets, people walked, often many miles, to reach the city’s Tahrir Square. Several thousand had gathered by early afternoon.
Surrounded by hundreds of police, soldiers and rooftop snipers, with military helicopters buzzing overhead, protesters waved Iraqi flags and signs reading: “Bring the Light Back” (a reference to the lack of electricity), “No to Corruption!” and “I’m a Peaceful Man.”
Many said they were protesting for the first time. Among them was Selma Mikahil, 48, who defiantly waved a single 1,000-dinar bill in the air. “I want to see if Maliki can accept that I live on this!” she yelled, referring to her pension, the equivalent of $120 every five months. “I want to see if his conscience accepts this!”
Protesters circled the square and then surged down a road toward the bridge leading to Maliki’s offices, where a row of giant concrete blast walls had been erected overnight to block them. Witnesses said a soldier shot one protester in the stomach, then people began to hurl rocks over the wall.
Protest organizers had hoped Friday’s demonstrations would inject a fresh concept into the exercise of Iraq’s fledgling democracy: peaceful expression of discontent. They insisted their goal was to demand a better government, not a new one.
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Tripoli Protesters Die Amid Calls for Kadhafi To Go
Radio Netherlands Worldwide
(February 25, 2011) — Loyalists of Moamer Kadhafi killed several people in shooting that was spreading through Tripoli on Friday as French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the embattled Libyan leader “must go.”
As protesters against Kadhafi’s iron-fisted rule braved deadly gunfire in several parts of the capital, opponents braced for a fightback by a regime that has suffered yet more defections.
Sarkozy said “Mr Kadhafi must go,” becoming the first world leader to demand the ouster of the 68-year-old former army colonel who seized power in a 1969 coup.
“The systematic violence against the Libyan people is unacceptable and will be the subject of investigations and sanctions,” he added at a news conference in Ankara with Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul.
Meanwhile, outraged Western governments scrambled to craft a collective response to the bloody crackdown in the oil-rich North African state.
In a first step, the European Union agreed to slap an arms embargo, asset freezes and travel bans on Libya, an EU diplomat said. However, they will not be enforced for several days because the accord needs to be drafted legally.
And Western nations have drawn up a draft UN Security Council resolution that would impose similar sanctions worldwide, diplomats said in New York, adding that a vote could come as early as this weekend.
Until now, governments have been constrained by fears of reprisals against their people still stranded amid what escaping expatriates described as hellish scenes as evacuation efforts dragged on into the 11th day.
In Tripoli, security forces opened fire indiscriminately on worshippers leaving prayers, desperate to prevent any new protests on the weekly Muslim day of rest, residents told AFP by telephone.
Two people were killed in the Fashlum neighbourhood and several more in Sug al-Jomaa, witnesses said.
Both are eastern suburbs where security forces had opened fire on previous days, but sustained gunfire was also reported in the western district of Ghut Ashaal.
With police and troops deployed in force outside their mosques, prayer leaders followed texts for their sermons that had been imposed by the authorities calling for an end to “sedition,” worshippers said.
Outside the Jamal Abdelnasser mosque in the heart of the capital, an amateur video broadcast by Al-Jazeera television showed anti-regime demonstrators chanting “there is no other God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.”
In Libya’s third city Misrata, 150 kilometres (100 miles) east of the capital, residents were expected to turn out in force for the funerals of 30 people killed as they helped evict regime loyalists, a resident said.
With some 500 loyal troops of the Hamza Brigade still holed up at a nearby air base, volunteers were helping to fortify the city with containers and sandbags, the resident told AFP by telephone.
The second city Benghazi, where the unprecedented protests against Kadhafi’s four-decade rule first erupted, remained firmly in the hands of rebels, an AFP correspondent said.
But the initial euphoria of the eastern city’s liberation was giving way to fear that its weak defences could be vulnerable to a counter-attack.
At the barracks of the Al-Saiqa (Thunderbolt) special forces unit, an officer who gave his name as Colonel Said said: “For now, we are readying ourselves here. We are expecting an attack on Benghazi at any moment.”
In the city’s courthouse square where the demonstrations started, the faithful gathered for their first Friday prayers free of Kadhafi’s rule.
Delivering his sermon alongside the coffins of three men killed in the violent uprising, prayer leader imam Salem Jaber vowed: “We will not abandon Tripoli,” to chants of “Allahu akhbar (God is greatest) from the congregation.
Already depleted, Kadhafi’s regime faced fresh defections, including that of his cousin and close aide Kadhaf al-Dam, who quit “all his official functions,” Egyptian state media reported.
Libya’s ambassadors to France and to the UN cultural organisation UNESCO also resigned, the latest in a string of foreign envoys to announce they were “joining the revolution.”
The Paris embassy had already been seized by protesters calling themselves the “children of the revolution.”
State television said Libyan families would be eligible to receive $400 (290 euros) each and that some public sector workers could get pay rises of as much as 150 percent as Kadhafi’s regime sought to deploy its oil wealth to shore up dwindling support.
But the website of the official JANA news agency (Jananews.ly) was inaccessible in Tripoli from Thursday evening, apparently brought down by cyber-activists.
Leading an international outcry over the regime’s brutal crackdown, US President Barack Obama consulted the leaders of Britain, France and Italy on how to “immediately” respond.
Britain and France both called on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions and for members of the Libyan regime to face prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council met in special session to consider calls to expel Libya over a crackdown that High Commissioner Navi Pillay said was “escalating alarmingly”.
US officials said no option had been ruled out, but State Department spokesman Philip Crowley stressed the extreme sensitivity of the situation.
“Whatever steps that we do take, we want them to be effective. And we certainly don’t want to take any actions that put either our citizens or the citizens of other countries at risk,” he said.
Western governments faced mounting domestic criticism for their failure to organise evacuations more speedily as oil workers stranded in remote desert camps spoke of their supplies being looted amid growing lawlessness.
Italy is preparing a “military operation” to rescue some nationals trapped in the southeast whose food has run out, Defence Minister Ignazio La Russia said.
A US-chartered ferry carrying more than 300 evacuees finally pulled out of the Libyan capital bound for the island of Malta, the US State Department said, after a nerve-wracking delay in Tripoli harbour caused by bad weather.
Crude prices rose again as markets continued to fret about the turmoil in the Middle East despite a promise from the OPEC oil cartel to make up for any loss of production in Libya.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April rose 76 cents to $112.12 per barrel, having rocketed the previous day to $119.79 — the highest level since August 22, 2008 — before sliding lower as many traders took profits.
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