Photo: Government-backed militia amid Saturday’s clashes in Benghazi in Libya

Turkey: Massive Istanbul Anti-Government Rally as PM Erdogan Addresses Supporters in Ankara

A visual story of the competing rallies for and against the Erdogan Government — first, Sunday’s large gathering in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, where mass protests began nine days ago:


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told supporters in Ankara tonight, “How can you attack my police?…We are going to show patience, but patience has a limit as well”:


Yemen: 1 Dead in Fighting

One protester has been killed and 10 people injured, including four guards, in clashes with Houthi demonstrators who were demanding the release of political detainees.

An official said the Houthis, who have been demanding autonomy in the north of the country, fired at guards while trying to storm intelligence headquarters in Sanaa on Sunday. He claimed some protesters were arrested for smuggling weapons and drugs.

Meanwhile, hundreds of supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh demonstrated in Sanaa against the release of 17 men who were detained in connection with a June 2011 explosion that injured Saleh in his palace mosque.

Saleh stepped down in early 2012 as a transitional Government was put in place.

Tunisia: IMF Approves Major Loan

The International Monetary Fund has approved a two-year, $1.74 billion loan for Tunisia, giving Tunis access to foreign currency urgently needed to help balance its budget.

The Tunisian Government has devoted 1/3 of its 2013 budget to infrastructure projects, which it says will create short-term job opportunities for youth as well as helping private businesses.

However, Tunisia is running a 6% budget deficit this year, and political tensions over a draft Constitution have prevented Parliament from debating legislation allowing the government to apply for Islamic finance instruments.

The IMF money, like most loans from the Washington-based organization, comes with strings

The IMF has set conditions on the loan, including restructuring of Tunisia’s banking sector. Analysts believe that non-performing loans on the books at state-owned banks amount to billions of dollars.

Turkey: Protests Continue, But PM Erdogan Defiant Over “Handful of Looters”

Moving through the country to gather support against nation-wide protests, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to concede any ground. He told supporters who had greeted him at Adana airport:

We won’t do what a handful of looters have done. They burn and destroy. … They destroy the shops of civilians. They destroy the cars of civilians. They are low enough to insult the prime minister of this country.

He urged his supporters to avoid violence themselves and predicted that he would defeat his opponents during local elections in March: “As long as you walk with us, the Justice and Development Party administration will stand strong. As long as there is life in my body, your prime minister and your party chairman, God willing, will not be deterred by anything.”

He then traveled to the city of Mersin to make a similar speech and to open new sports facilities.

Later Sunday, Erdogan will speak to his supporters in the capital Ankara.

On the 10th day of mass protests against the Government, demonstrators near Istanbul’s Taksim Square yell to Erdogan, “Tayyip, Resign!”


Libya: Deadly Clashes in Benghazi

At least 25 people have been killed in Benghazi in eastern Libya in clashes during Saturday’s protests outside the headquarters of the Libya Shield Brigade, which is working with the Ministry of Defence.

Dozens more were wounded, according to medical officials.

Demonstrators had gathered outside the headquarters of the Brigade demanding the disbanding of militias, including those which fought during the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. They specifically called for the Brigade t leave its premises.

One witness said he had seen around 200 protesters. While most of them were unarmed, a few had AK-47 rifles, although he said he did not see them used.

A spokesman for the Libyan’s Army Chief of Staff, Ali al-Sheikhi, described the Libya Shield Brigade as “a reserve force under the Libyan army.” He said an attack on the brigade “is considered an attack against a legal entity”.