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Residents of other Middle Eastern capitals took to the streets, claiming solidarity with Libyans in their stand against Muammar Gaddafi and voicing complaints against their own leaders.
As news emerged of more killings during protests in the Libyan capitalTripoli on Friday, residents of other Middle Eastern capitals took to the streets, claiming solidarity with Libyans in their stand against Muammar Gaddafi and voicing complaints against their own leaders.
Tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters who had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square were dispersed by the army on Saturday. The demonstrators had gathered in the square on Saturday and earlier on Friday, calling for the removal of their interim government and an end to the country's notorious 30-year-old emergency law.
GlobalPost's Jon Jensen reports from Cairo that the army in general used little force in breaking up the demonstration. The peaceful protest in Tahrir came just one day after violent protests in Maadi, an upscale suburb just south of Egypt's capital. Hundreds of protesters occupied a square in Maadi on Thursday, torching two security vehicles following a police shooting of a microbus driver there, Jensen wrote.
The new wave of demonstrations comes just two weeks after the ouster of Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak, placing new pressure on the country's new military leadership to enact greater political reforms.
Egypt's military — which took power following Mubarak's resignation on Feb. 11 — has been struggling to restore calm and order following weeks of protests and strikes in the Arab world's largest nation.
Much of the anger on Friday was directed squarely at Mubarak holdovers in Egypt’s new cabinet, specifically Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, a top ally of the former president.
“We will stay here until Shafik leaves,” said Hatem Amin, 34, an activist protester. “He is a part of the old regime, and just as corrupt as Mubarak.”
A prominent Bahraini opposition leader returned from exile Saturday and urged the kingdom's rulers to back up reform promises with action as thousands of demonstrators marched on government buildings in the capital. The return of Hassan Mushaima, a senior Shiite figure, could mark a new phase for the anti-government movement in the tiny Persian Gulf nation which is a strategically important American ally, according to the UK Press Association.
Mushaima heads a Shiite group known as Haq, which is considered more hardline than the main Shiite political bloc that has helped drive two weeks of protests. He was embraced and kissed by a small group of supporters as he returned from several months of voluntary exile in London.
Mushaima's return follows a day of pro-democracy demonstrations that blocked miles of downtown roads and highways in Manama, the capital, on Friday, according to the New York Times.
The mass rally was held to honor the victims killed in the recent police crackdown. At least seven protesters have been killed during clashes with security forces since the beginning of pro-democracy protests in Bahrain on Feb. 14.
Protesters demand major reform including the election of the prime minister and the creation of a "real" constitutional monarchy, according to Press TV.
Meanwhile, the leader of Bahrain's largest opposition partytold CNNFriday that he'd been prevented from returning home, after being detained in Lebanon, where the authorities seized his passport, saying there was a warrant for him from Interpol, the international police organization.
Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the Haq Movement, pointed to underhanded tactics by the Bahraini government.
"My lawyer confirmed that no such warrant has been issued," Mushaimaa said Friday. "If I was wanted by the Interpol, I would have not been allowed to leave London.
"What is happening to me would show clearly how this regime [in Bahrain] is using lies and deceptions. How can there be a call for national dialogue while I am banned from returning to Bahrain?"
Iraq’s largest oil refinery, in Baiji, was crippled by a predawn attack on Saturday in which gunmen stormed the vast complex, killed one engineer and set off several bombs. The attack shut down parts of the Baiji Refinery, halting the production of about 150,000 barrels per day of petroleum products and threatening to interrupt supplies of heating oil, gasoline and oil for generators for millions of people in northern Iraq, according to the New York Times. It is expected to take months to repair the pipelines, cables, furnaces and other equipment damaged by the explosions and fires, according