Round-up of the Middle Eastern conflict

Protesters in Syria. Credit: thephotostrand.

By Edoardo Zandona’

While battles on the ground and air raid attacks from the coalition continue in Libya, other countries in the Middle East are still experiencing turmoil. Here are the last updates country by country.

Syria: Syrian police forces arrested at least three demonstrators today after thousands gathered in the Syrian capital of Damascus for the funeral march of those dead in the last days’ demonstrations. According to the opposition forces, 100 have been killed by riot squads during protests in the city of Daraa. The Syrian government claimed only ten people died in Wednesday’s turmoil, and denied having ordered the police to open fire on the protesters, as stated by the Asharq al Aswat newspaper.

Yesterday, President Bashar al-Assad promised the start of a series of reforms in the country, including the lifting of the state of emergency which has been in place since 1963. The government also announced measures to fight corruption, to raise workers’ wages and to relax restrictions over the media.

Yemen: Tens of thousands of people have gathered today in the capital Sanaa in what is believed to be the biggest anti-government rally so far. President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in charge since 1978, while addressing his supporters, said he is ready to hand over power, but only to ‘safe hands’. He also urged his supporters to ‘stand firm’. The rallies are coming a week after 50 have been killed in protests.

The situation in the country seems about to explode. The Free Yemeni movement tweeted: “Taqyeer square screams right now: ‘The people want to overthrow the regime, Saleh you are going down tonight and no other night’.” A BBC correspondent reported that ‘the city is very tense and anxious, with a sense of history in the making’.

Latest reports say that government troops fired warning shots on the protesters.

Jordan: Supporters of Jordanian government have clashed last night with opposition forces, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit. King Abdullah’s supporters threw stones to the demonstrators who gathered on Thursday in the capital Amman. On Wednesday King Abdullah sent a letter to Jordanian newspapers, urging the Prime Minister to push through parliamentary reforms.

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