News Bites

April 6, 2011

Violence in Yemen Intensifies; End Game Near? Gunmen fired on an anti-government protest in Yemen yesterday, killing at least 10 people and wounding many others. According to the BBC, the death toll in Yemen has surpassed 100 since anti-government protests began last month. Still, President Saleh – who enjoys U.S. backing in the “war on terror” – remains defiant. In the words of his spokesperson Ahmed al-Sufi, “He thinks he is like [Thomas] Jefferson…What’s important is to deal with him as a historical figure.” Saleh is warning that a handover of power without his tight control over who succeeds him, would provide encouragement to terrorists. The U.S., reportedly, finds merit in such a position. However, in recent days, the White House has apparently moved against Saleh somewhat, presumably towards his main opponent, ex-military ally general Ali Mohsen.

Demanding Justice in  Oman After Omani police reportedly shot dead a protester last week, and repressed an ongoing protest in the town of Sohar by “Hundreds of Omani protesters seeking jobs and better wages” anger continues to simmer in one of the Middle East’s most stable despotisms. Yesterday, it was reported that the state had arrested several pro-reform activists, accusing them of stockpiling weapons to be used in anti-government protests. Nevertheless, protesters have gathered in Muscat to demand justice for those who have been wounded, killed or imprisoned during protests.

A Strange Bombing in Port Sudan The Sudanese government is claiming that Israeli jets bombed the city of Port Sudan this week resulting in the deaths of two people. As local politician Mohammed Tahir told Al Jazeera, “A plane bombed a small car which was coming from Port Sudan airport to the town … There were two people in the car and both were killed. The vehicle was completely destroyed.” Apparently, “The plane flew in from the direction of the Red Sea, destroyed the vehicle at about 10:00pm (19:00 GMT), and returned in the direction from which it came.” Sudanese foreign minister Ali Ahmad Karti told the BBC that “We have indications that the attack was carried out by Israel. We are absolutely sure of this.” In 2009, Israel was linked to a similar strike on Red Sea State in Sudan, an attack which was linked by the press to arms smuggling into Gaza.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, Ha’aretz reports that “Two Palestinian civilians including a pregnant woman were wounded Wednesday when Israeli warplanes carried out air strikes.” Allegedly, F-16s were targeting “terror tunnels” in the northern part of the Strip but “Palestinian witnesses said that one of the air strikes targeted a plastic factory in eastern Gaza City, wounding the civilians in a neighboring house.”

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