Friday, February 25, 2011

"Hundreds of Thousands Protest Across Mideast"

NYT: "Hundreds of thousands of protesters turned out in cities across the Middle East on Friday to protest the unaccountability of their leaders and express solidarity with the uprising in Libya that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is trying to suppress with force.

The worst violence of the day appeared to be in Libya, where security forces shot at protesters as they left Friday prayers to try to launch the first major anti-government demonstration in the capital. Demonstrations in recent days have been in other cities, and several of those have fallen to armed rebels determined to oust Colonel Qaddafi.

Protests in Iraq also took a violent turn, with security forces firing on crowds in Baghdad, Mosul, Ramadi and in Salahuddin Province, killing at least ten people. Unlike in other Middle Eastern countries, the protesters in Iraq are not seeking to topple their leaders, but are demanding better government services after years of war and deprivation.

Religious leaders and the prime minister had pleaded with people not to take to the streets, with Moktada al-Sadr saying the new government needed a chance to improve services and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki warning that insurgents could target the gatherings. But on Friday, the deaths came at the hands of government forces.

Demonstrations elsewhere — in Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia — were almost exclusively peaceful.

In Bahrain, pro-democracy demonstrations on a scale that appeared to dwarf the largest ever seen in the tiny Persian Gulf nation blocked miles of downtown roads and highways in Manama, the capital. The crowds overflowed from Pearl Square in the center of the city for the second time in a week, but the government once again allowed the demonstration to proceed."


David All said...

The King of Bahrain should be talking with the British Monarch instead of the Saudi King. Queen Elizabeth could tell him about the joys of being a Constitutonal Monarch and point out that there is still a Monarch in Britain because her predecessors were willing to compromise and share power with a democratically elected assembly; while France has no Monarch because the French Kings were unwilling to compromise and were overthrown.

Don Cox said...

Some of the Queen's ancestors were reluctant to compromise. It took a long while for the system of constitutional monarchy to evolve.

Charles I was unable to compromise, believing that he had been placed on the throne by God and had a divine right (and duty) to rule. He was executed and we had a dictatorship for a short period.

In modern Spain, the King acted as a unifying and moderating influence after the Fascists were overthrown. Several other European countries have constitutional monarchs. It seems to work well. The Indian President occupies a similar position of referee above the political fray.