Politics & Policy

Arc of Instability Wrap

I can do better than the New York Times on this one:


LIBYA With Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s support within the military appearing to splinter, the embattled leader called on thousands of mercenary and irregular security forces to defend his bastion in Tripoli, as the rebellion crept closer to the capital.

EGYPT About 1,000 police officers protesting a decision to dismiss them at the Interior Ministry’s complex set a building on fire with gasoline bombs and threw rocks after soldiers fired into the air, Egyptian security officials said.

YEMEN Seven lawmakers who belong to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s governing Congress Party resigned and said they would form their own independent bloc, The Associated Press reported. In addition, thousands of people streamed into a square in Sana, the capital, trying to bolster anti-government protesters.

SAUDI ARABIA The government of King Abdullah announced an initiative that would provide Saudis with interest-free home loans, unemployment assistance and sweeping debt forgiveness. The total cost of the program, apparently intended to offset unrest, was estimated to be $36 billion.

BAHRAIN King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa ordered the release of more than 300 prisoners, including 23 Shiites who had been accused of trying to topple the king, Reuters reported. The release was a concession to the mainly Shiite protesters who have been demanding a constitutional monarchy. In addition, the king met with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.

IRAN Press TV, Iran’s state-financed satellite channel, reported that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had criticized Colonel Qaddafi of Libya for threatening his own citizens. Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke of universal human rights and said that leaders should hear the voice of their people.

IRAQ Senior Shiite religious leaders called for Iraqis to refrain from more protests, which led many members of the country’s Shiite majority to say they would not join in demonstrations scheduled for Friday. In addition, a police officer in Halabja, in Kurdistan, was shot and killed in a confrontation with protesters.

WEST BANK A Palestinian youth organization, Sharek, held a news conference in Ramallah to call for an end to the schism between Fatah, the secular faction that controls the West Bank, and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.

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