Police attack protest camp in Egypt’s Tahrir Square; violence grows in Syria, Yemen

Egyptian riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets stormed into Cairo’s Tahrir Square Nov. 19 to break up a protest tent camp, sparking clashes that injured at least 500 people. The camp of some 200 was established to commemorate the hundreds of protesters killed in the anti-Mubarak uprising and demand a speedy transition to democracy. The black-clad police, a hated symbol of Mubarak’s regime, were sent back in to action against protesters for the first time since the strongman’s fall. (AP, Nov. 19)

Also Nov. 19, an Arab League deadline for Damascus to halt its bloody crackdown on protesters or face sanctions expired—a day after Syrian security forces killed at least 12 civilians, including two children, according to opposition sources. The repression in Syria since mid-March has now claimed more than 3,500 lives, by to UN estimates. Ruler Bashar al-Assad responded by vowing to hit back against the Free Syrian Army, which claimed to have killed several security police in an assault on an air force intelligence complex near Damascus two days ago. The Free Syrian Army has apparently established a base of operations in Lebanon‘s Bekaa Valley, where two were arrested last month attempting to smuggle a truck full of arms into Syria. (Reuters, Nov. 20; Middle East Online, Nov. 19; The Guardian, Nov. 18; Lebanon Now, Oct. 31)

The UN Security Council will on Nov. 21 discuss the refusal of Yemen‘s President Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power despite increasing violence. Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakul Karman, a leading Yemeni activist, held talks with several UN envoys on Nov. 17 as part of her campaign against Saleh, and later lead a rally outside the UN headquarters. The Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2014 on Oct. 21 condemning attacks on demonstrators by Saleh government forces and backing a Gulf Cooperation Council plan under which Saleh would end his 33-years rule. Saleh refuses to sign the plan, and the death toll in Yemen is mounting. Several hundred demonstrators have been killed since anti-government protests started in January, and the authority of the government has been eroded across the country. (Middle East Online, Nov. 18)

See our last post on the Arab revolutions.

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