Arab Spring: Latest news and analysis

Left Foot Forward's Dominic Browne brings us the latest news and analysis from the uprisings taking place throughout the Arab world.

The major story today is that President Obama, president Sarkozy and prime minister David Cameron have written a joint letter saying there can be no peace in Libya while Muammar Gaddafi remains in power, that “someone who has tried to massacre his own people” has no future in government; but what of the revolutions in the rest of the region? Left Foot Forward’s Dominic Browne investigates

Roger Hardy, writing for the BBC, has asked the pertinent question:

“What happened to the Arab spring?”

Hardy draws three lessons which he analyses from the situation so far: firstly, all politics is local; secondly, Islam is part of the picture; and thirdly, the West is not the driver.

With uprisings across the region slipping down the news agenda, stalemate setting in and an ambiguous transition period in Tunisia and Egypt – the two countries who have achieved the overthrow of their regimes – it would be easy to think there was nothing new to report.

However, the Arab spring has not yet ended, with civilians across the region fighting for their rights, for freedom, for democracy, for liberty.

Here is the latest, country-by-country:

Syria

In Syria there are reports of thousands taking part in pro-democracy protests today in the Southern city of Daraa, despite president Bashar al-Assad unveiling a new 30-member cabinet yesterday in an attempt to quell the movement. There is also breaking news on BBC News 24 that security forces have fired tear gas and beaten protesters who are marching in their tens of thousands on the capital Damascus.

The president also ordered the release of detainees arrested in protests taking place over the last month, while Human Rights Watch have reported “rampant torture of protesters” in the country with activists and journalists also being arrested and mistreated.

Bahrain

The BBC have reported that the government have decided to postpone plans to ban the two leading Shia parties in the country following criticism from Washington. Around 30 people have died since February in the country in protests by mainly Shia citizens against the Sunni monarchy.

In a statement posted on the official Bahrain news agency (BNA) the government said it would defer its action against al-Wefaq and the Islamic Action Society:

“…in light of the ongoing investigations and trials on the unfortunate events that the country has witnessed in the last period.”

The statement was posted a day after US state department spokesman Mark Toner said:

“We call on the government of Bahrain to support freedom of association and expression, and to foster an environment that encourages political pluralism and participation.”

The US  also voiced concerns over the treatment of detainees in Bahrain after a fourth man died in custody this week. So far this uprising has seen martial law declared, Saudi Arabian forces sent in to crush protesters, and the military firing on peaceful protesters and preventing them receiving medical treatment.

Yemen

Protesters remain defiant in Yemen too. They have turned Change Square in the capital Sana’a into a “tent city” where people of all ages and backgrounds are camping out in an attempt to remove President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the despot who has ruled with an iron fist for three decades.

President Saleh has promised to “transfer power constitutionally” after accepting proposals made by the Gulf Cooperation Council of the Gulf Arab states. The proposals stopped short of asking Saleh to step down, and instead called for him to hand power to his deputy. However this could leave him in power till 2013 which is not good enough for the Change Square protesters or the country’s tribal leaders.

Writing for the Guardian, Tawakkol Karman, whose detention by security forces in the country helped spark even greater waves of protests, explains just how historic so much unity is in a country previously so divided. The uprising has already cost more than 100 lives. The BBC report that at one rally on the March 18th snipers on roofs around the square shot dead 53 protesters.

Jordan

The New Stateman blogged last month on the protest movement in Jordan giving an analysis of the background and issues involved in the country’s politics. The movement has appeared to stagnated somewhat in Jordan since the height of the Arab spring.

Egypt

Egypt is still in the process of making the difficult transition to democracy. Amira Nowaira, writing for The Guardian, expresses her confidence in the Egyptian people to see the revolution through and analyses the latest events and political situation in the country. Brian Whitaker, also for The Guardian, reports on the latest news on former president Hosni Mubarak and his detainment.

A more worrying analysis of the future for Egypt, and its women in particular, is provided by The Atlantic.

Tunisia

The caretaker government of Tunisia have drawn up 18 criminal charges – including manslaughter and drug running – against former former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. He is safe while he stays under in Saudi Arabia under the protection of the royal family, however he can never travel freely.

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