I have to dash but want to give you a snapshot of what’s going on today:
EGYPT: Anti-government riots are continuing into a third day. Riot police are using tear gas and rubber bullets; demonstrators are using petrol bombs and rocks. Four confirmed dead so far (three demonstrators in Suez and a policeman in Cairo). Demonstrators torched a government building and a police post in Suez. Hundreds arrested; forty people have been charged with trying to overthrow the government. Reports of flight by Mubarak’s family have been denied. Take particular note of this: Mohammed ElBaradei, identified by Haaretz as a pro-democracy “reform campaigner” (but probably more familiar to you as the ex-DG of the International Atomic Energy Agency), is returning to Egypt today after years of exile and is expected to take part in demonstrations tomorrow.
YEMEN: Thousands of protesters, apparently organized by Yemen’s opposition coalition, appeared on the streets of Sanaa to protest corruption and poverty. Note that Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled the dirt-poor country for over 30 years, is considered a critical ally to the US in the fight against al-Qaida in Yemen.
TUNISIA: Protests continue amid the general chaos (an example of which is the statistic that a reported third of the country’s prison population has escaped). The aim of the protesters, now that President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has fled, is a purge of his loyalists from the government. An international arrest warrant has been issued for Ben Ali, his wife and other members of his family. Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, the Minister of Justice, is calling on Interpol to locate and return Ben Ali et al to Tunisia for trial. The family’s assets have been frozen and the head of Ben Ali’s former presidential guard is now under investigation for violence.
LEBANON: Calm today. All roads have been reopened and barriers removed.