Protests in Bahrain are ongoing, despite a deadly crackdown by the government.
Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Bashar al-Assad, told Al Jazeera that emergency law in Syria would “absolutely” lifted, but didn’t mention when.
This has been a key demand of protestors in Syria. Emergency law, in place since the 1963 coup that brought the Baath Party to power, imposes restrictions on public gatherings, movement, allows the arrest of “suspects or persons who threaten security”, authorises interrogation of any Syrian, monitoring of personal communication and state censorship of media.
Yemeni protests are ongoing, particularly in the volatile south of the country. This conflict has a strong anti-Islamist element. President Saleh has been backed by other states, in order to prevent the spread of Al Qaeda in Yemen and the entire Gulf.
Wefaq – the main Shia opposition group in Bahrain – has welcomed Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Saban al-Ahmad al-Sabah’s offer to mediate between the al-Khalifa ruling family of Bahrain and the Shia opposition.
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Bahrain Updates –
A Friday “day of rage” is ongoing, despite martial law. But who is organising it?
Neither Wefaq not the February 14 Youth Movement have claimed responsibility, and Wefaq, a Shia opposition group, have distanced themselves from the protests, seemingly hinting that it is now too dangerous to protests, with Saudi troops on the streets.
Libya Updates –
NATO appears to be taking over command of the no-fly zone over Libya, but the US will remain in charge of air strikes on Gaddafi’s ground forces.
This seems mostly to be the only way to get Turkey on board, a country which opposes bombing ground targets as it fears civilian casualties.
The situation now seems to ask the question – what is the goal? I still believe that we cannot only side with the rebels, for fear of poisoning our reputations in the eyes of other Arab states. We must appear to remain impartial and legitimate. But really, the goal must be Gaddafi’s removal. The continuing economic sanctions will hopefully force him to submit to a change in leadership. In the meantime, covertly or via France (which recognises the Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya), the west and Arab states must supply the rebels. This will allow them to survive, and even force Gaddafi out, by themselves. Supplies and training are crucial for the rebellion.