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Middle East Roundup

Libya: Protests have spread in Libya, with demonstrators in the eastern city of al-Baida burning posters of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi. Protesters reported four deaths; Libyan security confirmed only two. The protests began a few days ago, when security forces in Libya’s second city, Benghazi, arrested one of the regime’s only human-rights lawyers. Protesters then began to chant, “There is no God but Allah and Qaddafi is his enemy.” Libyan security reportedly issued a memorandum demanding Qaddafi make public experiences and complaining of low morale in the security forces.

Iraqi Kurdistan: Violence has escalated in Iraqi Kurdistan since I first reported this morning. Security forces have issued a curfew until 7 a.m. tomorrow morning. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has seized the opposition Goran headquarters in the regional capital of Erbil and reportedly burned it down.

Bahrain: Protests have grown increasingly violent in Bahrain, as the Shiite majority demonstrates against the pro-Western Sunni elite. The tiniest Arab state, Bahrain is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet and arguably America’s greatest strategic asset among Arab countries — the single Arab country in which the United States cannot afford regime change. Iran has long had designs on Bahrain that are somewhat analogous to the claims Saddam Hussein laid over Kuwait.

Iran: Violence also continues to spin out of control in Iran. The Iranian press is reporting the arrest of several children of former officials and ayatollahs in a sign that the generation gap is trumping family loyalty as Iranians seek the freedom so long denied them.


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