Another Friday in the Middle East

by Matthew Shaffer

As usual, today, Friday, the Muslim holy day and beginning of the weekend, saw an uptick in demonstrations in Bahrain, Libya, Jordan, Tunisia, Oman — everywhere. Next Friday is scheduled to be the Saudi Arabian “day of anger.” We’ll see if those protests — which could be the most significant yet — will go anywhere. 

A Times wrap: 

 

In what has become something of a weekly appointment for displaying disaffection with unresponsive governments, thousands of people poured into the streets across the Arab world to protest after noon prayers on Friday. There were only scattered reports of violence outside of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s harsh crackdown on demonstrators in Libya, with the worst of it in Yemen.

Some protests — in Yemen and Bahrain — stepped up pressure on leaders who have appeared increasingly vulnerable in the weeks since demonstrators toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.

Others, in Iraq, Jordan and Egypt, were pushing their governments for change, rather than an overhaul of their leadership. In Iraq, demonstrators are demanding better government services; in Egypt — where there is a new military government — and Jordan, protesters were pressuring their leaders to speed up democratic changes.

In Yemen, where the government says three people died, government officials and a Shiite rebel group agreed that there had been violence, but their accounts of what led to the clash diverged.

The rebels said that the military fired artillery at peaceful protesters in the northern city of Harf Sufyan, hitting dozens of people. The protest, by Houthi rebels calling for the immediate ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, attracted thousands of people

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