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Egypt! Tunisia! Yemen! Pakistan! Jordan!

Meanwhile ... Democratic Iraq in Peace-&-Prosperity!

EGYPT in Anarchy! Crisis!

CAIRO - Tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators swarmed central Cairo on Saturday in the largest demonstration yet against the rule of the country's longtime autocratic leader, President Hosni Mubarak. The crowd went unchallenged by troops, who, in extraordinary scenes unfolding around the capital's central Tahrir Square, smiled and shook hands with protesters and invited them up onto their tanks.This Story

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Meanwhile, Mubarak named a vice president for the first time since coming to power 30 years ago, a government spokesman said - an apparent step toward setting up a successor other than his son, Gamal, whom he had appeared to be grooming for the post, despite public opposition. Mubarak chose as his deputy his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, a close confidant.

Even as protesters celebrated, word of Suleiman's appointment disappointed those who had expected wholesale change. "He is one of Hosni Mubarak's people, and we reject those people. The people should get to pick their leaders," said Mohammed Abdel Rahman, 25.

As a 4 p.m. curfew came and went Saturday, the square - which police had kept off-limits on Friday - was filled with people as far as the eye could see. The police seemed to have disappeared from the streets after vicious clashes the day before. The army had been hailed on the streets as a potential savior, with protesters giving soldiers thumbs up and openly imploring them to join their movement.

On Friday, the troops had appeared steadfastly neutral. Late Saturday, however, they were doing nothing to move demonstrators out of the streets, despite an earlier announcement by security services that anyone remaining in central squares or major roadways after 4 p.m. would face arrest.

Asked whether they would enforce the curfew, soldiers said they would not.

"We are with the people," said Ahmed, a 20-year-old conscript.

Soldiers accepted fruit, water and soda handed out by protesters in Tahrir Square and smiled as protesters chanted, "Go, Mubarak, go!" Children were hoisted up on tanks in the middle of the square to have their photos taken with troops as the hulking remains of the National Democratic Party headquarters building, home to Mubarak's ruling organization, burned in the background.

"These soldiers are Egyptians, too. They are suffering just like we are," said Khalid Ezz el-Din, a 50-year-old businessman who had come to the square to demand Mubarak step down.ad_icon

Shortly afterward, a convoy of tanks rolled into the square, with as many as 20 protesters riding on each one. As the soldiers smiled and flashed peace signs, the protesters shouted "We are one!" and "Down with Mubarak!" Others held aloft a banner reading, "Game over, Mr. Mubarak."

"This is freedom," said Abdel Nasser Awad. "Now we know Mubarak will leave.


YEMEN - Protesters take to the Sreets!

YEMENIS, Albanians and Algerians have been inspired by the uprising in Tunisia, taking to the streets in the hope of overthrowing their governments.

Thousands of Yemenis, fed up with President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule, demanded his overthrow yesterday in the first large-scale public challenge to the strongman.

Yemen's 23 million people are among the poorest in the Arab world, half of them living on less than $2 a day.

The government is widely seen as corrupt and is reviled for its alliance with the US in fighting al-Qa'ida.

There are few political freedoms and the country is fast running out of water.

But calling for Mr Saleh to step down was a red line few dissenters dared to cross.

"Get out, get out, Ali, join your friend Ben Ali," crowds of students and opposition groups chanted at a demonstration at Sanaa University in the Yemeni capital.

* Revolutionaries seeking basic rights Herald Sun, 5 hours ago

* Arab world convulsing as protests hit streets The Australian, 1 day ago

* Five minute guide to the unrest in Egypt The Australian, 1 day ago * Yemenis call on president to quit Courier Mail, 2 days ago

* Jasmine revolt must not fail feminism The Australian, 2 days ago

Since the Tunisian turmoil, Mr Saleh has halved income tax and imposed price controls. He has ordered heavy deployment of anti-riot police and troops to prevent riots.


TUNISIA, Rioting in Tunis!

A rare wave of protests sweeping through Tunisia has revealed a population not only concerned about high unemployment, but deeply angry with its repressive and corrupt regime. The unrest serves as a startling red flag for governments across the region that have long dismissed warnings that maintaining stability through suppression may one day backfire.Skip to next paragraphRelated Stories

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The protests, which started in Tunisia’s interior last month and rapidly spread, reached the capital of Tunis on Wednesday. Demonstrators wielding rocks clashed with security forces, who used tear gas against them, according to media reports. The government says 23 protesters have died so far, while rights groups say the number is more than twice that.

In a sign of how shaken the government is, Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fired his interior minister Wednesday, just days after a speech in which he called the protesters terrorists and offered few concessions.

The world in 2011: Trends and events to watch in every region

The Tunisia protests, combined with the eruption of riots in neighboring Algeria last week and recent unrest in Jordan, are worrying signs for Cairo. Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, also has a bulging youth population that has a far harder time landing jobs than other segments of society, and a tightly managed political system that has left little room for dissent.

While the protests are unlikely to bring down any governments in the near future, they portend trouble ahead if leaders who have ruled with a strong fist for decades try to keep a tighter lid on discontent instead of creating a vent for anger.

“Tunisia is a warning for the Egyptian regime,” says Diaa Rashwan, an analyst at the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “It's a warning, and any rational regime would take action to address it. But I don't think Egypt has any strategy for addressing it.”How Tunisian riots started

The unrest in Tunisia and Algeria was triggered by unemployment and rising food prices, respectively, but the roots of the unrest go further than economic factors.

Protests in Tunisia erupted last month when Mohamed Bouazizi, a young unemployed university graduate from Sidi Bouzid, doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in front of a local government building. Unable to find work in the formal sector, he had taken to selling fruits and vegetables informally but then police confiscated his merchandise and reportedly slapped him in public. His self-immolation was apparently an act of final despair. He died Jan. 4.


JORDAN protesters demand prime minister quit!

Thousands took to the street across Jordan demanding the prime minister step down

Thousands of people in Jordan have taken to the streets in protests, demanding the country's prime minister step down, and the government curb rising prices, inflation and unemployment.

In the third consecutive Friday of protests, about 3,500 opposition activists from Jordan's main Islamist opposition group, trade unions and leftist organisations gathered in the capital, waving colourful banners reading: "Send the corrupt guys to court".

The crowd denounced Samir Rifai's, the prime minister, and his unpopular policies.

Many shouted: "Rifai go away, prices are on fire and so are the Jordanians.''

Another 2,500 people also took to the streets in six other cities across the country after the noon prayers. Those protests also called for Rifai's ouster.

Members of the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jordan's largest opposition party, swelled the ranks of the demonstrators, massing outside the al-Husseini mosque in Amman and filling the downtown streets with their prayer lines.

King Abdullah has promised some reforms, particularly on a controversial election law. But many believe it is unlikely he will bow to demands for the election of the prime minister and Cabinet officials, traditionally appointed by the king.

Rifai also announced a $550 million package of new subsidies in the last two weeks for fuel and staple products like rice, sugar, livestock and liquefied gas used for heating and cooking. It also includes a raise for civil servants and security personnel.

Record deficit

However, Jordan's economy continues to struggle, weighed down by a record deficit of $2bn this year.

Inflation has also risen by 1.5 per cent to 6.1 per cent just last month, unemployment and poverty are rampant - estimated at 12 and 25 per cent respectively.

Ibrahim Alloush, a university professor, told the Associated Press that it was not a question of changing faces or replacing one prime minister with another.

"We're demanding changes on how the country is now run," he said.

He also accused the government of impoverishing the working class with regressive tax codes which forced the poor to pay a higher proportion of their income as tax.

He also accused parliament as serving as a "rubber stamp'' to the executive branch.

"This is what has led people to protest in the streets because they don't have venues for venting how they feel through legal means," Alloush said.



Algerians have been inspired by the uprising in Tunisia, taking to the streets in the hope of overthrowing their governments.

In Algeria, riot police armed with batons and shields clashed with protesters throwing rocks and chairs. They tried to march through the capital Algiers in defiance of a government ban on public gatherings.

At least 19 people were injured, the authorities said, but an opposition official put the figure at more than 40.

Protest organisers at the democratic opposition party RCD draped a Tunisian flag next to the Algerian flag on a balcony of the party headquarters where the march was to begin.


ALBANIA Rioters Protest Socialism!

Albanians has been inspired by the uprising in Tunisia, taking to the streets in the hope of overthrowing their governments.

TENS of thousands of demonstrators have started a silent protest in the Albanian capital Tirana, a week to the day after clashes during an opposition rally killed three.

The demonstrators, headed by the leadership of the opposition Socialists and the families of the victims, started a march on the government buildings. People continued to pour into the downtown area near the government, bringing traffic in central Tirana to a standstill. Many protesters carried flowers.

In the square in front of the government, a stage was set up, and opposition leader Edi Rama, the mayor of the capital, was expected to address the crowds later.

Pictures of the three fatalities of the last rally were placed on stage, with the word "justice" written on them in Albanian and English.

There was a huge police presence in the capital, with two cordons surrounding the government buildings and 30 elite officers guarding the entrance.


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