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A region in turmoil: How far will the unrest spread?
Charlotte McDonald-Gibson, Independent (UK)
King Mohammed VI
Notionally a constitutional monarchy, the Moroccan government has been accused of using the courts to imprison peaceful opponents. King Mohammed VI retains the power to dissolve parliament and dismiss or appoint the prime minister.
Criticising the monarchy or Islam is still punishable by law, but the private press has had some success in breaking taboos and investigating government corruption. There has been progress under Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, who took office in 2007, but Morocco still endures high unemployment rates, especially among its younger population.
Tunisia ... Lebanon ... Jordan ... Syria ... Iraw
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
Absolute monarch King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has ruled the desert kingdom since 2005, the latest in a long line of royals in charge. Although the 87-year-old is in ill-health and runs a strict authoritarian state, the distribution of oil wealth largely keeps the populace happy. The royals’ biggest challenge is Islamist extremist groups, and the monarchy cracks down hard on any challenges to their authority. Saudi Arabia, along with other oil-rich Gulf states such as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, are generally less susceptible to Tunisian-style uprisings because the population benefit from the spoils of natural resources.
Yemen ... Egypt ... Libya ... Algeria
(29 January 2011)
Yemen: Tens of thousands call on president to leave
Tens of thousands of Yemenis have demonstrated in the capital Sanaa, calling on Ali Abdullah Saleh, president for 30 years, to step down.
This comes after mass protests in Egypt and a popular uprising in Tunisia that ousted its long-time leader.
Yemeni opposition members and youth activists gathered in four parts of the city, including Sanaa University, chanting anti-government slogans.
They also called for economic reforms and an end to corruption.
Yemenis complain of mounting poverty among a growing young population and frustration with a lack of political freedoms.
(27 January 2011)
Thousands protest in Jordan
Thousands of people in Jordan have taken to the streets in protests, demanding the country's prime minister step down, and the government curb rising prices, inflation and unemployment.
In the third consecutive Friday of protests, about 3,500 opposition activists from Jordan's main Islamist opposition group, trade unions and leftist organisations gathered in the capital, waving colourful banners reading: "Send the corrupt guys to court".
... Another 2,500 people also took to the streets in six other cities across the country after the noon prayers. Those protests also called for Rifai's ouster.
Members of the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jordan's largest opposition party, swelled the ranks of the demonstrators, massing outside the al-Husseini mosque in Amman and filling the downtown streets with their prayer lines.
King Abdullah has promised some reforms, particularly on a controversial election law. But many believe it is unlikely he will bow to demands for the election of the prime minister and Cabinet officials, traditionally appointed by the king.
Rifai also announced a $550 million package of new subsidies in the last two weeks for fuel and staple products like rice, sugar, livestock and liquefied gas used for heating and cooking.
(27 January 2011)
Thousands of Albanian protest despite warnings
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the Albanian capital Tirana Friday for a silent protest closely monitored by police, a week after another demonstration turned deadly.
The opposition went ahead with the protest in defiance of international appeals and police warnings, insisting it would be a peaceful gathering to honor the three people killed last week.
The demonstrators headed by the leadership of the opposition socialists and the families of the victims started their march on the government buildings, passing by the spot where the people were shot, placing flowers at the scene in silence.
Organizers said there were 200,000 protesters but AFP journalists put the number at several tens of thousands.
... "We had a revolt of the frustrated people on January 21," Nertila Agolli, a 21-year old student, said.
"The country is getting poorer and poorer and politicians richer and richer. I'm afraid that the poor are beginning to send a message they will not remain calm if the state continues not to address their needs," Agolli told AFP.
(28 January 2011)
Although Albania is in Europe, the population is about 70% Islamic. (Wiki) -BA