02/21/2011, 00.00
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Jasmine uprisings: Saudi Arabia fears contagion, contemplates reforms

Uprisings in the Arab world continue. Whilst Libya is on verge of civil war, security forces in Yemen kill a teenager in Aden. In Bahrain, protesters reoccupy the Pearl Roundabout. Banque Saudi Fransi advises Saudi Arabia’s rulers to adopt reforms.

Manama (AsiaNews/Agencies) – As the brushfire ignited in Tunisia and Egypt sweeps across the Arab world, with Libya on the edge of civil war, governments of countries still spared uprisings are scrambling to adopt measures to avoid a social explosion. This is the case of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where rulers are concerned about what is happening in Bahrain and Yemen.

In a report issued today, Banque Saudi Fransi, a key Saudi institution, said that “Education reform and job creation” are needed to push more nationals into the job market and tackle unemployment.

At the same time, the kings of Jordan and Morocco have announced that social and political reforms would be implemented shortly.

However, tensions are not letting up in Yemen. This morning, a teenager was killed by police in Aden. Eyewitnesses said that soldiers opened fire on a group of youths who were throwing stones at their patrol vehicle. Other people suffered gunshot wounds in the same incident.

The boy’s death brings the total number of casualties to 12 since last Thursday, when protests broke out against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year hold on power.

In addition, this morning, thousands of people staged a protest in front on Sana’a University.

In Bahrain, where security forces pulled back and demonstrators took over the Pearl roundabout, things appear to be moving towards a solution. Hundreds of opponents to the Sunni-controlled regime in the predominantly Shia nation, have reoccupied the venue that has come to symbolise the protest, now in its ninth day.

The opposition wants the government to guarantee that it would keep the promises it made during the bloodiest days of protest, including the release of all who were arrested during the demonstrations, social reforms and an end to anti-Shia discrimination.

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