Monday, February 28, 2011

Protests in Oman

Several people may be dead following protests in Oman.  Protesters blocked an industrial area in Sohar and some stores were looted.  Two government buildings were set on fire.  The Oman Daily Observer referred to it as "sabotage and vandalism."  Protests also took place in Muscat.

Top Stories February 28, 2011

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  King's order to benefit 180,000 temporary employees - These are temporary government employees who are now permanent government employees.  (Should I be cynical and wonder if this is a bribe - don't protest and I'll give you a job!)

Lebanon Daily Star:  March 14 shuns Mikati Cabinet, vows to confront 'coup' - Saad Hariri's party is not happy with Hizbollah.

Haaretz (Israel):  Documentary on Tel Aviv school, 'Strangers No More,' wins Oscar - Children from 48 countries go to the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv.

Turkish Daily News:  Death of 'Erbakan Hoca' closes out an era of Turkish politics - The founder of Turkey's Islamic political movement has died.  He was also a former prime minister for Turkey.

Gulf Daily News (Bahrain):  Reforms on track - Bahrain's Cabinet has changed and supposedly that means reforms are in process.  Again, call me cynical, I'll believe it when it happens.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kurds Protest Corruption

Yes, the Kurds in Iraq are protesting too.  Not in the way of Libya or anything like that, but some people are making comparisons to 1991 (protests against Saddam).  They're protesting corruption in Sulaimaniyah.  Apparently, as often happens, some government officials or political parties are getting too much control over business matters and making a fortune off of it, and the people are sick of it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Free Ali Abdulemam: Update I

Ali is free!  The king of Bahrain freed a number of prisoners and Ali was one of them.

US Honor Killing Convicted

I posted last month about an Iraqi man in the US who killed his daughter who had left home and moved in with her boyfriend.  He was convicted  this week.  So much for all of those right-wing conservatives complaining about Shari'a law taking over America.

Monday, February 21, 2011


My health issues have been popping up some, and I'm distracted by trying to keep track of all the protests.  So don't be surprised if I'm not blogging every single day for a bit.

If you're tired of reading about dead protesters, how about some Happy News:  read about Abu Dhabi's new art district.

Top Stories February 21, 2011

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Troops 'liberate' Libya's 2nd city - It looks like some part of the army is now fighting against Qaddafi.  And there have been attacks on the funerals held for protesters.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Source: No progress on Mikati Cabinet formation - It's still a mess in Lebanon.

Haaretz (Israel):  Libya clashes reach Tripoli; central government building ablaze - Gadhafi is not backing down, and Al-Jazeera has reports of the air force bombing protesters.

Turkish Daily News:  Murder a fact of life for women in Turkey - In 2002, 66 women were murdered.  In 2009, almost 1,000 were murdered.  Gender inequality and increasing conservatism are blamed.  Turkey's population is just under 78 million.  That's not quite as big as the 3 most populous US states combined (California, Texas, New York).  By US standards, that's a low murder rate (as of 2009 there were over 15,000 murders total in the US).

Gulf Daily News (Bahrain):  Support for Premier - People thank the prime minister for his "wise leadership."  I wonder who owns this paper?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Protests Protests Protests! Update I

Yahoo!'s Mideast protests at a glance.

Bahrain is in a world of hurt.  More protesters were attacked and injured, overwhelming the hospital.  So far, over 200 people have been injured and President Obama has been speaking to the Bahraini king.  The king has appointed the Crown Prince as a kind of mediator with the protesters, and he has issued his own statement.  There was also a pro-government rally.

Protests in Libya are getting very bloody with over 40 protesters dead, and there are reports that 2 policemen were hung.

Protests in Yemen are on their 9th straight day, and 4 more people are dead.  Journalists are also being attacked.  Protesters in Ta'iz were attacked with a grenade.

Jordanians have been protesting for 7 days straight.  The 2,000 protesters were followed by some pro-government supporters.

Egyptians held a celebration protest.  It's been a week since Mubarak left.

Oman is generally considered the safest country in the Middle East.  When I visited, I found the Omanis very polite and nice.  So it makes sense that when they held a protest today, it was a polite one.  Really.  Read the article.

Women's News February 18, 2011

A Syrian blogger named Tal Mallohi has been sentenced to 5 years in jail, accused of spying for the US.  She has several blogs and is only 19 years old.

Saudi women are worried that harassment of them is increasing.  But the protests in Egypt may be helping to decrease harassment of women there.

Helen Clark, who heads up the UN Development Program (and used to be PM of New Zealand), visited Yemen.  She discussed a number of issues, including advances that need to be made for women.

During the protests, Tahreer Square in Sana'a, Yemen was supposed to be the site of a traditional crafts fair for women.  I don't know how things went, but hopefully the fair was still able to go on.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bloggers Update

Kareem Amer, Egyptian blogger, was arrested in Tahrir Square on February 7th, then released a few days later.

Tal Mallohi, teen-aged Syrian blogger, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison.  She was convicted of giving information to the United States.  Free Tal website.

Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam is still in jail.  Free Ali website.

YemenWatch: Thursday February 17, 2011

More protests!

Two protesters died in Aden and more laid siege to the police headquarters.  The government is deploying thousands of soldiers, all over Yemen.  Protests continued at Sana'a University.  And President Saleh is going for an open door policy now. 

Journalists covering the protests are being attacked.

Are more regimes ready to fall?

The journalist with alleged AQAP connections, Abdul Elah Haidar Shay, is still in jail.  Saleh was going to release him, until President Obama stepped in .  Saleh is meeting with a tribal mediator to discuss the situation.

Gitmo Book Banned?

An Australian man who was kept at Guantanamo Bay for years has written a book about his experiences.  But don't plan on reading it if you live in America.  Truthout has an interview with the author, and FireDogLake has some commentary about it.  I'll admit to not keeping on top of the Gitmo events here at The Ali Gator blog, so I don't remember much about the situation with this prisoner.  But, whether you believe him or not, I find it disturbing that his freaking book is NOT sold in America.  If you search on there is a Kindle edition, which is not available for download if you live in the United States.  I can't even get the book to pop up on my little Amazon widget that lets me add books to my blog posts.  So much for Free Speech in the United States. 

The book is called Guantanamo: My Journey by David Hicks.  It is available from Random House Australia.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Protests Protests Protests!

Things are heating up across the Middle East, and the latest is in Bahrain.  Protesters are trying to take over the main square, just like the Egyptians did.  Two people have already died in these protests.  Funerals were held Tuesday and sparked even more protests.  Several policemen have been arrested for the deaths.  These protests are continuing today.

Protests in Jordan have included Bedouin, who want their land back.  And the government recently decided to allow protests or rallies without government permission.

In Saudi Arabia some activists are trying to form a political party.

Protests have started in Libya as well, and several activists have been arrested.  Protesters are calling for their own Day of Anger and numerous people have been injured.  More on the protests.

Activists have called for protests in Syria.  One of them was arrested and just released.  And a female teen-aged blogger in Syria, held for over a year, has been convicted of spying for the US.

What's also interesting is what isn't mentioned online.  For instance, the Gulf Times in Qatar has articles on Egypt, Tunisia, and even Yemen, but nothing about Bahrain.  Whereas the Gulf Daily News in Bahrain does cover some of the protests.  So does the Kuwait Times.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

YemenWatch: Tuesday February 15, 2011

Yemen has its own Tahrir Square, in Sana'a and in Ta'iz province.  Protests took place in both cities.  Protesters have been attacked (more) and arrested in Ta'iz, Sana'a, Aden and Hudaidah.  In Ta'iz, protests are in their 5th day.  Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are both concerned with the attacks on protesters.

The JMP is officially back in dialogue with the government and has condemned the government's actions against the protesters.  And an MP from the ruling GPC party resigned, partly citing attacks on protesters.

Four Yemenis are on trial for supporting the Houthis and spying for Iran.

The US is pretty concerned over Yemen, especially in regards to AQAP, so it will spend $75 million to help Yemen in counter terror efforts including increasing the size of the counter terror unit.

See the Yemen Times expose on AQAP.

The government is denying reports on the death of an AQAP leader, Al-Shihri, in Abyan last week,

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate is upset with President Obama because he wants journalist Abdul Elah Haidar kept in jail.

Al-Awlaki released another audio message, condemning the Yemeni government for working with the US.

It looks like the Houthis may have officially declared a rebellion now.

In 2010, 119 people were kidnapped in Yemen.  The government is still hunting down some of the kidnappers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

US Hypocrisy

If Egypt, our buddy, wants democracy, we're not so sure about it, until it happens.  But if Iran wants democracy, then we are all for it.  Democracy now!  Kick out Ahmedinejad.  I really get fed up with politics sometimes.

Update YemenWatch

I'm running a little behind on YemenWatch, which is bad, because there's a lot going on.  I'm a bit busy at the moment but should have the update posted tomorrow.

Top Stories February 14, 2011

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Egypt's Parliament dissolved - The military is currently in charge, but it's not exactly clear what will happen next.

Lebanon Daily Star:  March 14 prepares to unleash 'fierce opposition' -  Today is the 6th anniversary of the Hariri assassination.  Saad Hariri and the March 14 party will use it launch their opposition to Hizbollah.

Haaretz (Israel):  Benny Gantz takes over as IDF chief: I am ready to face the challenges - Gantz was the 2nd choice, after Yoav Galant was disqualified.

Turkish Daily News:  Sweep of arrests erases any doubt over who's the boss in Turkey - In 2003 an alleged military coup came to light, and almost 200 officers are suspects and under arrest.

Egyptian Gazette:  Egypt's military council set to ban strikes -  The military is trying to restore order to the country, which is good, but I'm still a bit concerned about what will happen when all the protesters go home.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Quick News Roundup February 12, 2011

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia) reports that the subcontractors to the US Embassy are abusing their employees.  They cite a report by the US Office of Inspector General, and provide a link to it.  Abuse of South Asian employees is fairly common in the Gulf.  I don't mean that as an excuse, just as a piece of information.

A senior rabbi in Israel is under arrest for supporting a book (Torat Hamelech) that says when it is okay to kill Gentiles.  He refused to be questioned by police, because it is a religious issue.  This whole thing originally came to a head in January of last year (see this article).  I'm not sure what to think of it.  It sounds as though some people want it to be thought of as a scholarly work, while others see it as inciting violence.  The article I linked to makes some good points about the authors of the study (also rabbis) and that they may be inciting violence.  I will say one thing though:  if a Catholic priest wrote a book saying that the Bible says sometimes it's okay to kill Jews, there would be a huge uproar and calls of anti-Semitism.  But almost no one would say it's a religious issue and the police should stay out of it.

There's more about that senior rabbi in this article, which compares the Muslim Brotherhood to the ultra-Orthodox religious right in Israel.  They believe that Judaism trumps democracy, and want to take Israel even further down that road.

This was written before Mubarak left, but it's a quick look at how events in Egypt are affecting the Gulf.  And this more recent article covers the current situation.  Even Palestine is affected and should have elections in September.

Egypt Rocks!

Congratulations to the people of Egypt!  It's so inspiring to see the peoples of Tunisia and Egypt make a change for themselves.  Let's hope that both countries will be able to create a new democratic government of the people.

I have been a little concerned with some of the media coverage of Egypt in the US.  They keep talking about "what does this mean for us?"  And harping on how good a friend Mubarak was in the fight against terrorism.  Of course, they don't mention that one reason he was such a good friend is because the US could send suspected terrorists to Egypt to be tortured.

I am also really sick of hearing how "stable" the Mubarak regime was and how we need stability in the Middle East.  I am all for stability, but not under a dictatorship.  Some of the media outlets have been pointing to other Middle Eastern countries that are stable and what might happen if they have protests.  This reminds me of US foreign policy during the Cold War, when we were propping up these brutal right-wing dictators in Central and South America.  But hey - it was stable!  It drives me crazy that so many Americans had no idea what was going on then, and have no idea what is going on now.  How can a country that wields this much power have people who are so clueless?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Women's News February 10, 2011

A Dutch-Iranian woman was hanged at the end of January.  She was arrested in 2009 for protesting, but was hanged on drug charges.

Over 600 girls were given vocational training in Yemen in 2010.

Saudi women met yesterday to discuss the role of women in the Kingdom and successful businesswomen spoke of their experiences.

YemenWatch: Tuesday February 9, 2011

What appears to have been a US spy drone crashed in Abyan province, where the wreckage was picked up by AQAP.  Or it wasn't.  Don't believe rumors.  This is one of the problems in Yemen.  Of course, if someone from the government is denying it, that makes me think it's probably true.

Several people were killed during a Houthi-tribesmen fight in Sa'ada province.

The southern separatist movement is calling for their own Day of Rage on Friday, prompting the military to send more troops to Aden.

Yemen is now trying southern leader Shalal Ali Shia in absentia in Aden.

Another Somali pirate was given a 5 year prison sentence.

Some protesters were arrested at Sana'a University, but were later released (long article about some of the men protesting).  There were also protests in Ta'iz province.

According to the prime minister, "Yemen is a democratic country" and "is not Tunisia or Egypt."

Yemen LNG is building a new LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) storage facility in Mareb province.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Top Stories February 7, 2011

Arab News (Saudi Arabia):  Egyptian regime offers new concessions - Yep, Egypt is dominating the news.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Berri: Cabinet will be formed within one week - It looks like Mikati will be the new PM and he's working on his cabinet.

Haaretz (Israel):  Egypt protests poised to enter day 14, despite signs of compromise - Israel is keeping a close eye on the protests in Egypt, since they share a common border.

Turkish Daily News:  Turks march in Istanbul for Egyptian freedom - Turks show solidarity for the Egyptian people and criticize the prime minister.

Islamic Republic News Agency (Iran):  Tehran, Ankara to boost trade to $30 billion - This should happen over the next 5 years and was discussed at the Tehran-Ankara Economic Commission meeting.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

YemenWatch: Sunday February 6, 2011

Ten AQAP suspects are on trial for various activities, including blowing up a Canadian company's office.

A security officer in Hadramout province missed an assassination attempt, possibly by AQAP.  He may be part of Yemeni intelligence.

Earlier this week a Yemeni journalist, allegedly with ties to AQAP, was given a release order.  He's been called a "terrorism expert" and Reporters Without Borders has been following his case.  NewsYemen is reporting that President Obama is concerned over the release.  I'm concerned too.  I'll admit that I don't know a lot about this journalist, but apparently one of the main problems is that he met with Al-Awlaki in 2009, and is called a "sympathizer."  There have been a few other journalists who have met with terrorists, like Osama Bin Laden.  But they aren't arrested and called sympathizers.  Of course, they are also white.

About 20% of the Yemenis in Egypt (mostly students) have been evacuated by Yemenia airlines.

Eight students were arrested, prompting a sit-in for their release, which came on Saturday.

Saleh saw some of the protests from a helicopter.

The JMP plans to hold more protests and may even suspend their memberships in parliament.  On Saturday they officially received an initiative from Saleh, which may help in ending the ongoing election mess, but the JMP says protests will continue.  Some analysts are saying that the concessions Saleh has proposed may backfire because he may not be able to follow through, which is really going to upset people.  Obama is calling for both sides to play nice.

Yemen is trying to reach several Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  Although, if the chaos keeps up, that's not likely.

The historic parts of Sana'a city are being threatened by new development, negligence, and etc.  Yemen-UNESCO is very concerned.

More information on the worker fired from the Spanish Embassy, who claims it was without cause.

Edit:  More information on the current unrest in Yemen and other countries.

Edit: Added info and commentary on the arrested journalist.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quick News Roundup

There's so much happening in Egypt, and also in Yemen, that I've been remiss in my postings.  Here's a quick recap of some recent events.

Public protests have been banned in Algeria since sometime in the 1990s.  The president just announced that protests will now be allowed, except in the capital of Algiers.  The opposition party has planned a protest for next week, and that would be in Algiers.

A supposed UAE spy-ring has been uncovered in Oman, and some Omanis have been arrested.  The UAE says it is not spying on Oman.  The spy-ring may be interested in the Omani succession or in Oman-Iran relations.

There are protests going on in Palestine both for and against Mubarak.  In general, Fatah supports Mubarak (and vice versa) and Hamas is against him.

Syria's Day of Rage fizzled out.  The government has more control over things there.

On Sunday, trial starts in Iran for the 3 American hikers accused of being spies.

Friday, February 4, 2011

YemenWatch: Friday Februrary 4, 2011

Last year the deputy director of the Yemeni political security service in Sada'a province was kidnapped.  AQAP now says they have executed him.

The army shelled the town of Radfan, in Lahj province, on Wednesday, injuring 3 people.  This is in relation to the southern separatist movement.

A Sudanese man in California sent chemical suits and body armor to Yemen.  He was tried and found not guilty, while another man was found guilty.  It's a felony to do that without government permission.

Protests in the south to free detainees.  Another protest in Hadramowt with injuries.  And another protest by the JMP ended with almost 2 dozen arrested.  The GPC held their own pro-Saleh rally in Sana'a, with about 10,000 people, while the JMP held a rival protest.  Even kids are out there holding signs.  More on those protests.  Saleh is now saying he won't run for re-election in 2013 and he thanked the Yemen people who aren't protesting.  President Obama is urging Saleh to follow through on what he has said he'll do.  Here's an analysis of the situation.

Saleh called the Emir of Qatar, trying to get him to stop Al-Jazeera in Yemen.

The missing little Jewish boy is home.  Not entirely sure what the real situation was.

The Central Bank of Yemen will soon issue a sukuk - a state bond that still respects Islamic laws.  Apparently this will help Islamic banks in Yemen to invest their money in Yemen.

Over the weekend, a business owner was fined for having a sale without telling the Ministry of Industry and Trade.  He also had to pay a bribe to the soldiers who notified him of the transgression.

The group Anonymous has been attacking Saleh's website.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Will update on Yemen soon.  I've been snowbound and addicted to Al-Jazeera and Twitter, watching Egypt.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

YemenWatch: Tuesday February 1, 2011

Abdul Elah Haidar, journalist and AQAP expert, received a presidential release order, after being detained since August.  Hopefully he will actually be released this week.

Another suspected AQAP member was sentenced to jail time.

Tribal fighting in Abyan province.

President Saleh has called a meeting of Parliament and the Shura councils for Wednesday.  The JMP plans to boycott the meeting and is planning rallies for Thursday.  The government is preparing for them by reinforcing security forces.

Students in Sana'a are still protesting against Saleh, who is making concessions hoping to stop the protests.

A Yemeni man, possibly a US citizen, was killed by policemen over the weekend.

Journalists are still being harassed and detained in Yemen.