Mosaic Blog

Tonight on Mosaic: Syria broadens crackdown on anti-government protestors

Syria: Syrian security forces continue to crack down on protests throughout the country. Rights activists reported hearing gunfire in the besieged city of Muadamia, west of the capital Damascus. Two people were killed in Dire al-Zure when security forces opened fire on a night protest. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory reported that continuous house raids occurred throughout the night in the city of Banias, part of a campaign that resulted in the arrest of over 300 people. 


Libya: Muammar al-Gaddafi’s forces have resumed attacks on Misurata, shelling a number of fuel depots in attempt to halt the revolutionaries’ movement and block their energy sources in anticipation of recapturing the city. One revolutionary said, “The situation is difficult. There is little fuel, food, medicine, and other necessities. They have imposed a siege on us.” 


Egypt: Muslim-Christian sectarian violence erupted in Egypt this weekend in clashes outside a church in Cairo’s Imbaba neighborhood. The Egyptian armed forces have arrested 23 people in connection with the riots, including the owner of a café near Mar Mina Church, where the fighting began. Twelve people were killed and 240 others were injured, according to Egyptian authorities. 

Yemen: Security forces continue to violently disperse protestors demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down and be prosecuted. In Taiz, three protestors were killed and 50 others were wounded when security forces opened fire on the crowd. The Yemeni opposition has threatened to abandon the Gulf initiative and align with protestors if Saleh doesn't approve the initiative in the next 48 hours. 



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Tonight on Mosaic: Amnesty International accuses Libyan regime of war crimes

Amnesty International has described the actions of Libya leader Muammar al-Gaddafi against Libyans as "horrifying," saying that planting mines and shelling residential areas could constitute war crimes. Meanwhile, France has expelled 14 Libyan diplomats loyal to Gaddafi’s government. The Libya Contact Group met in Rome on Thursday and decided to create a relief fund for the revolutionaries and allow them to use frozen Libyan assets for humanitarian purposes. 


In Syria, army gunfire killed six protestors during an anti-government protest in Homs. An unknown number of protestors were injured in the city of al-Tall, where the army also opened fire on anti-regime protests. Syrian state-run TV is describing the incidents as “military operations” to “remove terrorist elements.” Syrian security forces were deployed in the suburbs of Damascus as well as to cities in northern Syria in anticipation of a massive demonstration that activists are calling the "Friday of Defiance." 


Details of the U.S. operation to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden continue to unfold days after his death. The CIA used a hideout in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad to prepare for bin Laden’s assassination and gather intelligence. Washington defended its actions, saying that it reserves the right to carry out military operations similar to the one that killed bin Laden. In response, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry warned that any unilateral military action will have “grave consequences.”


Pro- and anti-government protests continue in Yemen as  thousands of protestors gathered in several Yemeni cities to demand President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s immediate resignation. Saleh is now describing his opponents as criminals, traitors, and outlaws. The Gulf Cooperation Council is continuing its attempts to mediate the crisis and has requested that 15 regime loyalists and 15 opposition figures be sent to sign the Gulf plan.


Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki and Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh have welcomed Qatar’s mediation in the ongoing conflict between the two countries. The presidents have signed an agreement vowing to make an effort to find a solution to the countries’ border dispute. The conflict began with Eritrea's occupation of Djiboutian territories in the Rias Doumira region. Clashes escalated between Eritrea and Djibouti in the mid-1990s and the relationship between the two countries has been tense ever since. 


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Tonight on Mosaic: Siege on Syria's Daraa to end as arrest campaigns begin elsew

As the Syrian military finally retreats from Dara’a after a ten-day siege, Dubai TV reports that tanks and armored vehicles were seen entering a number of other towns in Homs province, including Rastan and Talbisa. The Syrian state news agency SANA reported that the military began withdrawing from Dara’a after capturing what it referred to as “terrorist elements.” However, activists on social networking sites said that Dara’a is still under a “suffocating siege,” with military forces in the street and snipers stationed on rooftops. 


Al-Jazeera features a report on media repression throughout the Middle East during the revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain. These countries’ regimes have carried out similar campaigns to suppress the media by confiscating permits, arresting journalists, and even killing journalists and photographers. Al-Jazeera’s office in Syria was shut down after several employees received threats. Only Syrian state-run media has been allowed to cover the protests in Dara’a since they erupted two months ago. Yet these extreme measures have not prevented the spread of revolutions across the Middle East. 


Amnesty International has called on Bahraini authorities to end the arrests of opposition members and to release detained protestors. Bahraini authorities continue their violent crackdown on protests despite international pleas. Religious scholars, soldiers, medical personnel, and journalists have been arrested throughout the country. Al-Alam reports that Bahraini authorities asked Human Rights Watch lawyer Joshua Colangelo to leave the country before he was able to investigate human rights abuses. 


Sixteen police officers were killed and 65 people injured in a terrorist attack in the Iraqi city of Hilla early this morning. Al-Iraqiya reports that a car filled with explosives targeted police headquarters in the city center. Residents of Hilla affirmed that the attack will not hinder the determination of the Iraqi people to “pave the way to a new Iraq.”


The BBC reports that protests calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime continued in cities throughout Yemeni, as living conditions deteriorate due to heightened food and gas prices. Some believe that the gas crisis is being staged by Saleh and as a punishment to the opposition.


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Tonight on Mosaic: Palestinians give cautious welcome to unity accord‎

Several days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas a choice between seeking reconciliation with Hamas and achieving peace with Israel. Today, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority will stand by Hamas. He made this statement at the signing ceremony for the national reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo, Egypt. Palestinians expressed cautious optimism over the agreement, hoping it will open a new chapter for Palestinians.


Dubai TV reports that Syria protests have spread to the country’s second largest city, Aleppo. Students from the University of Aleppo took to the streets to demand that authorities lift the siege on Daraa. Nearly 3,000 protestors demonstrated in the coastal city of Baniyas with the same demand. Over 1,000 people have been arrested over the past three days, raising the total number of Syrian detainees to 2,800.


In Bahrain, 23 doctors and 24 nurses will be put on trial for their involvement in the uprising. The Bahraini military court is accusing them of providing medical care to protestors, being involved in the attempts to topple the ruling family, participating in illegal gatherings, and damaging public opinion by spreading false news. Al-Alam reports that this comes days after the military court issued death sentences to four young men accused of killing two police officers during protests.


In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi’s forces have shelled the Misurata port again, this time killing five people. Al-Jazeera reports that the forces are preparing to launch a new attack on the Wazen border crossing with Tunisia. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that over 80,000 Libyans have been displaced from the western Jabal al-Gharbi district in the past few days. International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that NATO forces might be used to capture Gaddafi.


France 24 reports tonight from Morocco, where demonstrators are gathering under the slogan “the people want to topple corruption and despotism.” The Morocco protests began on February 20, and have been growing in size everyday, despite King Mohammed VI’s promises to release of political prisoners and enact reforms.


Hundreds of Iraqis poured into Tahrir Square in central Baghdad last week to participate in the “Friday of Resistance.” Protestors are demanding the end of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, the eradication of corruption, and the release of detainees. In Mosul, demonstrators rallied in Ahrar Square for the 20th consecutive day, despite the government’s attempts to scatter the crowd.


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Tonight on Mosaic: Fierce battles rage near Libyan-Tunisian border

The BBC reports from Libya tonight, where a NATO official said that Gaddafi's loyalist forces planted landmines in Misurata’s port to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching the city. Medical sources reported that 12 people were killed in Misurata in a shelling by Gaddafi forces. Confrontations between the rivaling forces also took place near the Libya-Tunisian border. After Gaddafi forces shelled the Tunisian border town of Dhiba, Tunisian authorities expressed concern over what was considered a “violation of the sanctity of Tunisian soil.”


Al-Alam reports that thousands of Yemenis demonstrated in the capital Sana'a on the “Day of Loyalty to Martyrs” to announce their rejection of the Gulf Cooperation Council's initiative and demand the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. As the clampdown on these protests continues in Yemen, the Joint Meeting Parties warned they would not sign the Gulf agreement in Riyadh if the regime did not protect the peaceful protestors. Meanwhile, thousands of Saleh supporters held separate marches in Sana’a, as part of the “Friday of Constitutional Legitimacy.”


To mark the “Friday of Rage,” protestors throughout Syria took to the streets in solidarity with the city of Daraa, which is still under siege by the Syrian Republican Guard. After weeks of protests in Syria, al-Jazeera reports that today’s are particularly significant because the Muslim Brotherhood has openly joined the protest movement and over 200 members of the Ba’ath Party have submitted their resignations.


Tonight Syria TV relases the Paltalk Leakes, exposing exposing conspirators behind the Syrian revolution. The state run station reports that satellite phones, computers, and cameras were smuggled into Syria with the intention of fabricating news and spreading lies to the media about protests in Syria.


At least 16 people were killed in Morocco yesterday after a café was bombed in the city of Marrakech. The café is located in Djemma el-Fna Square, one of the top ten tourist destinations in the world. Moroccan authorities have launched an investigation to identify the perpetrators. Dubai TV reports that while the government’s spokesman said the authorities will pursue all leads, he hinted that al-Qaeda might be responsible for the bombing.


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