Protests against U.S.-backed dictators defy crackdowns*
By Gene Clancy
Published Mar 24, 2011 9:40 PM
Even as the U.S., France and Britain rain down bombs and missiles on Libya, resistance is growing against torture and repression by U.S. clients in other parts of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.
People fight back after gov’t kills 46
A government crackdown killed 46 people in Yemen on March 18, but failed to stop massive demonstrations against the U.S.-backed president. Crowds of thousands clashed the next day with security forces that were smashing their protest camps. The people even seized control of one southern city.
In the capital, the government had to bring out tank units and other military forces to protect key buildings as crowds swelled. Protesters also stood their ground in the southern port of Mukalla, surging out of their destroyed encampment and encircling a police station.
In the same province, witnesses said protesters chased security authorities out of the city of Dar Saad and were now in control. Dar Saad, with a population of around 150,000, has witnessed some of the deadliest clashes in the past few days — seven people have been killed. It is considered the gateway to the key port of Aden. If their hold lasts, it would be the first city where protesters have gained control from security forces. (Huffington Post, March 19)
Protests resume despite Saudi invasion
Days after the government in Bahrain had declared martial law and banned demonstrations by opponents, about 2,000 residents in the village of Sitra turned a funeral March 20 into the first protest since the ban, showing a deepening resistance to the regime.
Sitra had already seen heavy clashes amid raids by security forces on March 15. This working-class community was under a lockdown, its roads blocked by tanks and armored vehicles driven by ski-masked soldiers.
The protests in Bahrain have been carried out despite the presence of more than 2,000 U.S.-armed Saudi and United Arab Emirate troops, which invaded the country last week.
The government has arrested more dissidents and human rights workers, destroying their homes and also beating relatives, witnesses said. The regime also demolished the towering national monument at Pearl Square traffic circle where demonstrators had gathered for weeks before being routed on March 16. Many activists have now gone into hiding in this tiny country, their family members said.
Military grabs, tortures protesters
The heroic Egyptian revolution remains vulnerable to oppression and harassment from the armed forces, which have close ties to the U.S.
A group of newly released detainees on March 16 accused the Egyptian armed forces of torturing them with electric shocks, making them undergo “virginity tests” and forcing them to pose with weapons so they could be portrayed as criminals.
After their press conference, some 150 people demonstrated in front of the Press Syndicate, chanting “Tantawi is Mubarak.”
Protesters say that Field Marshal Muhammad Tantawi, head of the Higher Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces and a long-time Mubarak confidant, is carrying out the same oppressive tactics that spurred the revolution against the president. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 16)
U.S. drone kills 36 tribal leaders
Just one day after a CIA contractor was absolved by a Pakistani court of a double murder charge after agreeing to pay compensation to the victims’ families, Pakistan and U.S. relations were plunged into a new crisis over a CIA-directed drone missile strike that Pakistan said killed at least 36 civilians. Pakistan is a key ally of the U.S. in its bloody invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.
Even Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chief of staff of the Pakistan Army, condemned the attack, saying it was directed at a meeting of tribal leaders, many elders, and was “carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life.” (McClatchy Newspapers, March 17)
Stirrings of revolt
Even in the oil-rich puppet of the U.S. with an absolute medieval monarchy, there are the stirrings of revolt. Anti-government protests have recently flared up, particularly in the eastern parts of the country, despite a state ban on demonstrations.
On March 17 more than 4,000 protesters thronged the streets in the eastern city of Qatif and clamored for political reforms and the release of political prisoners. According to eyewitness accounts, police fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowd, leaving several people injured. Other rallies in the city were held in solidarity with the people of Bahrain. (Press TV, March 18)