Images and updates from the turmoil in the Middle East includes riots in Egypt, Al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen, demonstrations in Syria, Israeli diplomats fleeing embassy in Jordan and Gaddafi’s last stand in his hometown [click here for slideshow].
Yemen government forces kill Al Qaeda militants
Clashes between government security forces and insurgents in Yemen’s south on Wednesday resulted in the deaths of 14 people, 12 of them Al Qaeda-linked militants. Islamic radicals have exploited the turmoil of the anti-government uprisings by seizing control of a number of towns and the provincial capital of the southern province of Abyan. On Thursday government snipers shot at protesters marching in the southwestern city of Taiz and injured 12 medical workers in the city’s Freedom Square. At least 200,000 youth reportedly participated in the march in the city that lies at the heart of the Yemeni revolution and millions more will gather for protests on Friday.
Israel evacuates Jordan embassy fearing violent protests
Staff cleared out of the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital ahead of an anti-Israel protest for fear of a repeat of the violent attacks that took place in Cairo last week, the Guardian reports. A convoy transported Israeli diplomats from Amman to Israel overnight as Jordanian protesters began gathering near the embassy on Thursday. Leftists, labor unions and Islamists are calling for the closure of the embassy, expulsion of the ambassador and annulment of the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Anti-Israel sentiment has been mounting ahead of a UN meeting next week in which Palestine will request statehood. Nearly half of Jordan’s 6 million citizens are of Palestinian descent. Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel recently after Israel refused to apologize for the deaths of nine Turks in a military raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last year.
Egyptian military ignites protests by reenacting emergency laws
Egypt’s transitional government has decided to bring back emergency laws that were suspended as one of the major victories of the January 25 revolution. The laws, which allow the summary arrest and detention of citizens without charge and limits freedom of assembly, stopped being enforced after Mubarak’s ouster. But an attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Saturday night prompted the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to revive the laws. Activists are responding by planning a million-man protest in Tahir Square they are calling the “Friday of Deafening Silence”. They argue that by returning the country to martial law, cracking down on media in the country (an Al-Jazeera office was shut down by security forces on Sunday) and silencing opposing views, Egypt will return to the status quo that existed under Mubarak.
Syria stalemate: US worried Assad will weather storm
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime will likely live through the anti-government uprisings despite sanctions levied by the US and its European allies, according to Jay Solomon in the Wall Street Journal. The Obama administration is planning for a protracted confrontation with Assad as the revolt in Syria enters month seven. The U.S. and EU have slapped oil sanctions on Damascus that could threaten up to one-third of the government’s revenue, but many experts believe they lack adequate “bite”. Not to mention, the upper ranks of Mr. Assad’s military, dominated by members of his Shia Alawite religious sect, remain impressively unified in their support for the president and his family. Although the UN approved a no-fly zone and bombing campaign against Libya, military action has never been on the table as an option to stop Assad’s atrocities because many global leaders fear the alternative to Assad could imbalance the region as they continue to view Assad as the lesser of evils.
Rebels rock Gaddafi’s cradle
Thousands of Libyan rebels backed by tanks invaded the coastal city of Sirte, the birthplace of Muammar Gaddafi, where they met heavy resistance from elite loyalist troops who are trying to defend one of the last of three remaining Gaddafi strongholds. Officials from the National Transitional Council (NTC) told the Associated Press that four rebels have been killed and another seven wounded thus far in the standoff. An AP reporter saw the bodies of four loyalists near a vehicle that was supposedly struck by a NATO airstrike. The rebels ran roughshod through Tripoli just weeks ago and forced Gaddafi and his family to flee. Many in the U.S. are concerned that post-Gaddafi Libya could deteriorate into civil war and also are worried that Islamists could end up ruling the new state.
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