02/18/2011, 00.00
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Deaths and riots mark revolts in Yemen and Bahrain

The government of Bahrain uses brute force against demonstrators. The military seals off the heart of the capital. Four dead in Yemen yesterday and two today, in Aden. Police use firearms. Protests in Iraq and Egypt.

Manama (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The governments of Bahrain and Yemen have opted for brute force against the revolt for social and political reform that has spread to the Arabian Peninsula after Egypt and Tunisia. In Bahrain, the situation is still very unstable, after eight days of protests, with clashes between demonstrators and police in various parts of the small country. At least four people were killed and more than two hundred wounded, but there is no updated data. The has government imposed severe restrictions on the use of the Internet and has blocked several social networking sites, including YouTube.

The centre of the capital is patrolled by armoured army vehicles and foreigners are "advised" not to move from their homes. According to some analysts, Bahrain is the most sensitive point in the map of the protests because of a situation of prolonged political instability that could trigger Saudi Arabian intervention. According to some sources, the Saudis have already sent troops and vehicles to the border to crush the revolt. In Bahrain, a Sunni dynasty (like Saudi) governs a majority Shiite population. Among the requests, as well as the resignation of prime minister, in power since 1971, are greater political freedom and an end to discrimination in favour of the Sunnis.

Protests show no sign of ending in Yemen, now in their seventh day. Four protesters were killed yesterday and two today in clashes with police in southern Yemen port city of Aden, where a few thousand people were countered by the police, who used live firearms. Social protests have also begun in Iraq, with demonstrations in many cities. In Kut, a mob burned two buildings of public administration, and the governor's mansion.

Yesterday marked exactly two months from the day Mohamed Bouaziz, a young Tunisian unemployed, set himself on fire, sparking a protest that led to the fall of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. A new demonstration planned for today in Egypt, to maintain pressure on the military Council, and support the call for rapid reforms. The fear is that Mubarak's "old guard" are still in positions of responsibility and could prevent a real transition to democracy.
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