Protests Engulf Middle East
Even Iran, Iraq seeing continued unrest
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2011 8:55 AM CST
A riot police officer stands behind a barbed wire barricade near the Pearl roundabout in Manama, Bahrain, early Thursday morning, Feb. 17, 2011.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(Newser) – Unrest continues to spread through northern Africa and the Middle East, with protests rocking Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Iran, and even Iraq. The latest from yesterday and today, from the New York Times, BusinessWeek, and AFP:

  • In Bahrain, the death toll after a surprise police attack on protesters rose to five.
  • In Yemen, protests—and fights between those for and against the government—reached their seventh consecutive day, with police firing automatic rifles into the air in an effort to keep the opposing sides apart. Yesterday, government supporters used electroshock batons against those protesting the president and one person was killed.
  • In Libya, protesters organized a "Day of Rage" today to challenge the 41-year rule of Moammar Gadhafi. At least four people were killed in clashes with security forces yesterday; one human rights group claims as many as 13 were killed by snipers and dozens wounded.

  • In Iran, students attempted to hold a memorial service for an art student killed in Monday's protests yesterday, but authorities thwarted them and held an official funeral for Saane Zhaleh, calling him a vigilante.
  • Even Iraq saw protests yesterday, these over unemployment, unreliable electricity, and corruption in the government. Three were killed and protesters burned the governor's headquarters and house in the most violent protest since unrest began in Iraq last month.
  • The Egyptian military issued an initial estimate of the death toll during its 18 days of unrest: at least 365 civilians dead, plus prisoners and police officers.
  • All of this is putting the US in an awkward spot, experts say. “For decades, the US sort of prioritized stability over democracy because of oil and Israel,” says one, but “the current policy is not sustainable."

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