Middle East Update: Bahrain and Libya Mourn, Yemen Holds 'Friday of Fury,' Protests Spread to Iraq
Protests continue to swell across the Middle East, as citizens stay true to their remarkable demands for democracy. An update:
BAHRAIN: Thousands attended the funerals of three people killed during the protests this week, as riot cops stormed and tear-gassed different parts of Manama, the capital city, where public gatherings have been banned. Yesterday, an opposition leader estimated that at least 70 people were 'disappeared' from Thursday's protests, while the government announced on state TV that it had secured 'key parts' of the city. Secretary Clinton said that she had called Bahraini diplomats to 'directly convey our deep concerns about the actions of the security forces,' and request that today's funerals 'not be marred by violence.' US navy bases in Bahrain are seen as key in US dealings with Iran.
LIBYA: In Benghazi and Al Bayda, protesters mourned those killed during clashes with police during Thursday's 'Day of Rage,' where some reports say up to 50 people died. Gaddafi's government has made taken some pre-emptive measures to quell protests, including releasing over one hundred of those who oppose him and promising to double government employee salaries, but it's unlikely those concessions will satisfy the peoples' demands.
YEMEN: Tens of thousands are rallying today across the country for 'Friday of Fury,' during which three were killed in Taiz from a hand grenade blast. While much smaller in number, there have been pro-government counter-supporters, which Al Jazeera reports is an ongoing cause for concern:
"Although the crowds are smaller in number compared to what happens in different countries, the hostile and fearful mood setting over the last 48 hours may spark more violence," Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Sanaa, said.
"The fear here is that if events reach a tipping point, armed tribes may raid the capital and this is why people are worried about bloody confrontations."
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in charge for 32 years, has told the protesters to sit tight until the next election... in 2013.
IRAQ: In several cities across the country, protests have convened over political corruption and a lack of employment, with two people killed in Arbul and Dorhuk. Leaders there, too, have offered conciliatory efforts, cutting the salaries of some government employees and using funds for fighter jets to purchase food for the hungry. With demonstrations sprouting up across the region, it's unlikely these new protests will end soon, either.