Clashes and repression in Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Egypt

Clashes were reported at Mukalla in southeast Yemen between the regular army and elite Republican Guard loyal to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh March 24, leaving three wounded. It was the second such clash reported this week, pitting Republican Guards against soldiers under the orders of a regional commander who has rallied to the side of anti-Saleh protesters, Gen. Mohammed Ali Mohsen. Two soldiers were killed as the rivals clashed near a presidential palace in Mukalla on March 21. (Middle East Online, March 24) At least 15 people were killed as security forces opened fire on a thousands-strong protest march in Daraa, Syria, on March 25. Hundreds also gathered in the capital, Damascus, after Friday prayers. (CNN, NYT, March 25)

In Amman, Jordan, pro-monarchy counter-demonstrators hurled stones at protesters calling for political reform in a confrontation near the Interior Ministry March 25. Security forces earlier in the day erected a barrier in the Gamal Abdul Nasser roundabout near the ministry to keep the two sides separate, and beat back those who tried to breach it. They later used water hoses to try and disperse the protesters. (Reuters, March 25)

In Alexandria, Egypt, clashes were reported March 25 between rival groups of protesters. The secular January 25 Revolution Youth Coalition and a Salafist group came to blows when they both attempted to gather after prayers at the city’s Qaed Ibrahim Mosque. (Al-Masry al-Youm, March 25)

Egypt’s cabinet on March 23 effectively banned strikes and street protests, approving a law that allows authorities to imprison “those holding protests, sit-ins, or gatherings that would disrupt work in public or private establishments,” the official MENA news agency reported. The draft has been forwarded to the country’s new military rulers, who took power when nationwide anti-regime protests forced strongman Hosni Mubarak to step down on Feb. 11. The government said the restrictions would only apply while the decades-old emergency law was still in place. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has pledged to lift the controversial law, which gives police wide powers and suspends constitutional rights — before the end of the six-month transition period. (Al-Masry al-Youm, March 25; Middle East Online, March 24)

Hundreds of Shi’ites staged a protest in and around Qatif in Saudi Arabia‘s Eastern Province Friday March 25, calling for prisoner releases and a withdrawal of Saudi forces from Bahrain. Some 100 protesters were arrested in Qatif and several surrounding villages this week. (Al-Masry al-Youm, March 25)

See our last post on the new regional revolutions.

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