As focus in Egypt shifts from protest to transition, the success of ousting Hosni Mubarak has mobilized dissidents across the Arab world.
According to the London Guardian’s news blog, a “day of rage” in Bahrain produced minor clashes throughout the capital of Manama Monday, with police using tear gas and rubber bullets on Shia majority protesters. At least 14 were injured. (The ruling Sunni leaders recently offered Bahrainian families $2,650 each to settle economic complaints).
On the fourth day of demonstrations in Yemen, hundreds of protesters marched outside Sanaa University, and crowds overwhelmed police in the industrial town of Taiz. For the first time, members of Yemen’s Lawyers Syndicate joined the demonstrations.
But the day’s big protest was in Iran, where the opposition hadn’t taken to the streets since December 2009. Riot police set up roadblocks in Tehran and lined the streets in anticipation of the rally, which, contrary to earlier reports, was denied government approval. Police reported broke up some protests by firing tear gas at the demonstrators. Dozens were arrested.
Opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi was placed under house arrest early this morning, and the Wall Street Journal reports that 4,000 people gathered in Tehran’s central Azadi Square, and a few thousand more are in Imam Hussein square.
Finally, protesters have mostly left Cairo’s Tahrir Square, replaced now by striking labor workers demanding pay –union members, transportation workers and police. The military is expected to ban strikes and further protests in addition to imposing martial law, but has otherwise been listening to protesters’ demands so far. Egyptian protesters still aren’t happy with their new military leaders.
As this was happening, Egypt’s ambassador to the U-S announced on NBC’s “Today” show that Mubarak is “possibly in somewhat of bad health,” but didn’t provide any further details. As the LA Times notes, with protests spreading across the region, “to track the growing political movements gaining strength from the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia across North Africa and the Middle East, one would be well advised to get a planner.”
Meanwhile, the U-S is trying to reach out to internet-savvy Iranians in 140 Persian letters. The State Department has launched a Farsi Twitter feed. First message: “US State Dept recognizes historic role of social media among Iranians. We want to join in your conversations.”
So far, over 120 followers, including someone under the name of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hard to believe it’s him with posts like, “Protestors! Clear the streets at once or we will be forced to blast Fran Drescher’s cackle over the Ayatollah’s massive sound system!”