Protests turn deadly in Saudi Arabia; regime capitulates in Yemen —sort of

Four men have been killed in protests this week by the Shi’ite minority in Saudi Arabia‘s east—the most serious violence in the kingdom since the start of the Arab Spring. Street clashes began after a youth was killed at a checkpoint near Qatif. On Nov. 24, security forces fired on the funeral of a slain protester, leaving two more dead. Police said they exchanged fire with gunmen who “infiltrated” the mourners. The Interior Ministry said that “a number of security checkpoints and vehicles have since Monday been increasingly coming under gunfire attacks in the Qatif region by assailants motivated by foreign orders.” (The Independent, Middle East Online, Nov. 25)

Yemen‘s President Ali Abdullah Saleh meanwhile signed an agreement to hand over his powers after 33 years in office, which Saudi King Abdullah hailed as marking a “new page” in the country’s history. The deal, brokered by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, was also signed by leading opposition figures. But street-fighting between Salah’s supporters and opponents continued in the capital, Sanaa. The deal ensures a continued leading role for Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC). More importantly, it does not mention Saleh’s son, Ahmed, who commands the elite Republican Guard, or his other relatives and associates who control the security forces. The plan does call for the new government to appoint a committee to “restructure” the security forces, including the army, the police and the intelligence services. But it remains unclear what powers it will have to push through its suggested reforms. But many protest leaders have rejected the deal. (Taiwan News, Middle East Online, Nov. 25)

See our last post on the Arab revolutions.

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