Syria: On the first day of the Eid ul-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan, seven people have been killed in the security forces' relentless crackdown on protestors. Six were reportedly killed in Daraa during a massive demonstration at al-Omari Mosque, and one was killed in Homs. Protests also broke out in a number of provinces after Eid prayers, including Damascus, Rif Dimashq, Homs, Hama, Latakia, Idlib, and Aleppo.
Yemen: According to the official Yemeni news agency, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has vowed to honor the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, and says he is ready to hold immediate elections for a new president. A source close to Saleh said that the president has reached a deal with the opposition which stipulates that elections will be held within three months, as Saleh transfers power to his deputy, Abed-Rabbu Mansur Hadi. This political breakthrough, however, has failed to bring joy to Yemenis on the first day of Eid ul-Fitr. Many Yemenis are concerned with the deteriorating security situation in the country and are living amid harsh conditions.
Libya: Head of Libya's Transitional National Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil has set Saturday as the final deadline for forces loyal to fugitive Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi to lay down arms. Jalil said that negotiations were underway to arrange the peaceful surrender of the areas still held by pro-Gaddafi forces. Such areas include Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, the district of Bani Walid southeast of Tripoli, and the southern areas of Libya.
Bahrain: A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned that the situation in Bahrain remains "tense and unpredictable" as the Manama regime continues its brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations. About 124 cases in Bahrain have so far received verdicts, including two death sentences; sixteen of the cases were acquitted completely, while seven others were partially acquitted, according to the UN rights official.
Yemen: Protestors rallied nationwide today to call for the prosecution of the remaining figures of the regime, denounce Saudi and US intervention, and show their determination for the revolution. In an attempt to convince Saudi Arabia to change the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, which calls on Ali Abdullah Saleh step down from power, Saleh's cabinet met with the embattled president in Riyadh today. Saleh's cabinet also called on Saudi Arabia to support a new initiative, which would allow Saleh to return to Yemen as the leading president until the end of the year.
Libya: Violent clashes took place between the revolutionaries and Muammar Gaddafi's forces in the strategic oil town of Brega in eastern Libya. The town is one of the three major battlefronts of the Libyan conflict. The other two towns are Misurata and Jabal Nafusa, in western Libya. Brega is a strategic city for both sides and contains oil facilities, including refineries, a port, in addition to residential areas. The revolutionaries assert they are on the verge of taking control of the town, while Gaddafi's forces are desperately defending it.
Syria: According to activists, the number of people who have been killed in military operations in Syria since the beginning Ramadan has reached 271, an average of one death per hour. In addition, Syrian security forces re-entered the cities of Hama and Saraqeb after the journalist tour organized by authorities was over. Syrian activists reported that 44 people, including 18 in Homs, have been killed over the past few hours. The Syrian opposition continues to rally its supporters to take part in protest rallies tomorrow under the slogan, "We won't kneel, except to God."
Yemen: As Sanaa anxiously awaits his media appearance, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has called for opening talks with the opposition to implement the Gulf initiative for transferring power in Yemen. Reports from Riyadh confirm that Saleh's health condition is preventing him from appearing before the media. Meanwhile, over 300 members of the Central Security Agency, the police force, and the Republican Guard have defected from Saleh's regime and joined the youth revolution.
Bahrain: In a statement, the Bahraini February 14th Coalition described King Hamad Bin Issa al-Khalifa's initiative for dialogue as "an attempt to escape responsibility for the campaigns of killing, torture, and crackdowns practiced in the country." The statement added that the dialogue initiative was "born dead" and is an attempt by the authorities to corner the opposition. Many believe the call for dialogue is merely an attempt to relieve international pressure on Manama.
Syria: Anti-government demonstrations continue to be staged throughout Syria in Idlib, Homs, Deir el-Zour, and Hama. Protestors are rejecting calls to hold a dialogue with the regime. In Aleppo, activists have called for a demonstration called the "Aleppo Volcano" before tomorrow's protests on the "Friday of Departure." As Syria's economic capital, Aleppo was strategically chosen by the opposition for today’s demonstration in an attempt to sever the city's ties with the Syrian government.
Libya: France has defended its decision to send weapons to the Libyan opposition, saying it did not break the UN arms embargo because the weapons were needed to defend civilians under threat. AU Commission chief Jean Ping said France's decision puts the region at risk. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirmed that NATO will not arm the Libyan opposition.
Syria: Eyewitnesses said that thousands of residents of Maarat al-Numan in northern Syria fled as army tanks approached the town. Tanks were also positioned in Deir al-Zour and Abu Kamal, near the border with Iraq. The army was not present in Damascus, however, where thousands gathered in solidarity with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Anti-regime activists are calling for a protest on Friday that will be named after Sheikh Saleh al-Ali, a historic hero of the Syrian revolution who rebelled against French colonialism. Activists are seeking to affirm that their mobilization is a national one that crosses narrow ethnic and sectarian lines and aims to build a free Syria.
Bahrain: Fresh protests swept through various regions of the country today. Saudi-backed Bahraini forces using live bullets and tear gas swiftly confronted the protestors. Residents of the Sitra region organized a march in solidarity with detainees in Bahraini prisons. Protestors in Sanabis chanted slogans saying the downfall of the regime is necessary before any dialogue with the Bahraini government can begin. Other Bahraini villages witnessed nightly protests condemning the international silence surrounding the government’s extreme repression of protests.
Yemen: The Gulf Cooperation Council has offered to resume its mediation efforts in Yemen, if requested by either side. The revolution youths are mobilizing to form a transitional council, as the 24-hour ultimatum given to the acting Yemeni president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has expired. Sit-in groups in Change Square have called on the GCC to support the will of the people and to help form and recognize a transitional council. They also called for the toppling of what they referred to as "the remnants of the regime."
Yemen: The situation in Yemen remains ambiguous amid President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s departure. The US and Saudi Arabia are exerting efforts for a renewed Gulf initiative to help Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi effectively run the country in President Saleh’s absence. Protestors are calling for the formation of a transitional presidential council and opposition blocs said they would support a transfer of power to the vice president.
Libya: NATO ministers affirmed their commitment to continue military operations in Libya and to provide the necessary support for the operations until they achieve their goal. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that it is only a matter of time before Muammar Gaddafi's regime is overthrown. The Libyan government reported that over 60 missiles hit Tripoli in NATO’s most violent daytime attack, which killed 30 people and injured dozens. In a video message aired on Libyan state TV, Gaddafi vowed to stay in Tripoli, dead or alive.
Syria: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan said that Turkey will not close its border to refugees fleeing Syria. The Turkish Foreign Ministry indicated that almost 450 Syrians have escaped to Turkey since March, including 122 refugees who crossed the border yesterday. British Prime Minister David Cameron said that London and Paris will submit a draft resolution today to the UN Security Council condemning Syria's crackdown on protestors.
Bahrain: Iran is preparing a proposal to find a solution to crisis in Bahrain. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has proposed a date for a dialogue between the opposition and the regime, but the opposition has yet to respond to the invitation. In a meeting with Bahrain’s crown prince, US President Barack Obama affirmed his support for national dialogue in Bahrain.
Morocco: Over 100 protest rallies took place throughout Morocco this week despite the extreme violence used by security forces against demonstrators. The February 20 Movement protestors are demanding political reforms which include establishing a constitutional monarchy, implementing a process of government accountability, and granting the judiciary full independence. In response to the protests, Moroccan Minister of Telecommunications Khaled al-Nasseri said that people he refers to as Islamists and leftists are seeking to spread unrest in Morocco under the guise of democracy protests.
Libya: NATO launched its most aggressive attack against Muammar Gaddafi yesterday, targeting his headquarters at the Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli. NATO also said it will start using combat helicopters in its operations in Libya in order to launch more accurate strikes. Spokesman for the Libyan government, Moussa Ibrahim said the air strikes killed three people and wounded at least 150. On the ground, clashes are ongoing between revolutionaries and Gaddafi’s forces in Tripoli. This is the first time that the revolutionaries have engaged in battles inside the capital.
Syria: EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton described the situation in Syria as “disturbing” and called on the Syrian government to end the violence against peaceful protestors. Additional sanctions have been imposed on Syria and include freezing the country’s assets and prohibiting Syrian officials from traveling. Rights activists reported that 58 people died in last Friday’s protests. Despite the ongoing crackdown, protestors continue to rally throughout Syria demanding the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Yemen: New clashes erupted between Yemeni security forces and supporters of Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar. Five people were killed and several others wounded after the two sides exchanged gunfire. The fierce clashes came after the heavy shelling of al-Ahmar's home, where dozens of tribal leaders were placed under siege. The confrontation is yet another setback to the Gulf Cooperation Council and international efforts aimed at solving the country's political crisis.
Yemen: A number of people were wounded in Sana'a during violent confrontations between the police and President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s loyalists, and armed supporters of Hasid Tribe leader Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, who supports protestors. Eyewitnesses say clashes erupted after guards at al-Ahmar's house tried to prevent the police from storing weapons in a school in the Hasba neighborhood north of Sana'a. After Saleh’s refusal to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council’s peace initiative, the GCC has decided to suspend its efforts to mediate the crisis in Yemen due to a lack of “appropriate conditions.”
Syria: The European Union followed the US example and imposed sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad and other top officials in his regime due to the continued crackdown on peaceful protests in Syria. The sanctions include freezing assets and banning top officials from travelling. However, political observers doubt these sanctions will change the course of events and lead to a resolution in Syria.
Egypt: The Journalists Syndicate organized a celebration in the city of Suez to honor the families of those killed and injured during the January 25 Revolution. During the celebration, the families affirmed their hope that the Egyptian judiciary punishes those responsible for the death and injury of hundreds of Egyptians. Residents of Suez expressed their anger over the lack of media in Suez, as the city played a major role in the Egyptian revolution.
Bahrain: Physicians for Human Rights has published a report documenting Bahrain’s systematic human rights abuses. The report provides evidence of attacks on protestors, medical personnel, physicians, and civilians with the use of gunfire, physical beatings, teargas, machine guns, torture, kidnapping, and threats of death and rape. The organization considered the authorities' actions a violation of international law and concludes the report with policy recommendations for Bahrain, the US, and the international community.
Syria: Damascus has condemned the US’ sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad and said they will have no impact on Syria’s resolution. Amnesty International welcomed Washington's decision and called on US President Barack Obama to also impose an arms embargo on the country. Syrian rights sources reported that eight civilians were killed yesterday when Syrian tanks shelled the town of Talkalakh bordering Lebanon, raising the town’s death toll to 35 in the last four days. Meanwhile, Syrian state TV maintains that security and stability have been restored in the country.
Yemen: Yesterday, the Gulf Cooperation Council Security-General Abdul-Latif al-Zayani announced that the rival Yemeni parities were close to signing the GCC peace initiative. After five days of meetings with the Yemeni government, opposition, and international diplomats, the Gulf mediators were once again unable to negotiate a mutually-accepted agreement. One reason for initiative’s failure was the ruling party’s insistence on signing a deal with a party it considers “legitimate.” The Yemeni regime also said it would not sign the deal until all protest rallies and sit-ins are called off, which the opposition strongly rejects.
Libya: The United Nations is negotiating with the Libyan government, revolutionaries, and NATO to reach a temporary ceasefire agreement in Libya in order to deliver food and medical supplies to besieged civilians throughout the country. After weeks of fighting in Misurata, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s troops have withdrawn from the city and civilians now hope that life will return to normal.
Yemen: President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Yemeni opposition have agreed to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council’s reconciliation initiative, which includes a transfer of power and minor changes to the initiative that was proposed several weeks ago. This agreement came at the end of GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani’s visit to Yemen and after an intervention by American and European diplomats helped mediate the deal. However, Protestors, however, continued to rally in Yemeni streets and have rejected any initiative brokered by the GCC.
Libya: The Tunisian government threatened to report Libya to the United Nations after Libyan shells hit Tunisian territory near the Dhehiba border-crossing. NATO strikes on Gaddafi-controlled regions have now become regular and target vital regime facilities. Most recently, NATO warplanes launched a series of raids on several government buildings in the Libyan capital Tripoli, including the Anti-Corruption Ministry and the Internal Security headquarters.
Syria: President Bashar al-Assad has admitted that security forces made mistakes in dealing with protests over the past two months, during which over 800 people died. Assad said that thousands of policemen will attend new training sessions. The United States and the European Union said they will impose sanctions against Syria in response to the government’s violent crackdown on protestors. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia would not support any measures taken against Syria.
Gaza: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) closed its doors after its 11,000 employees called for a general strike. The strike was organized in protest of what is being referred to as the "arbitrary dismissal" of five employees. The agency closed all of its health clinics in Gaza, halting services to nearly 750,000 refugees. The strike is also affecting the more than 200,000 students enrolled in UNRWA-run schools.