Photo: Sunday’s protest in Taksim Square in Istanbul

Kuwait: Teacher Given 11-Year Sentence For “Insulting the Emir” on Twitter

A court has sentenced a female teacher to a total of 11 years in prison on Monday for insulting the emir, inciting regime change, and insulting a religious sect via Twitter, two sources close to the case said.

Huda al-Ajmi, 37, is the first woman known to have been convicted for criticising the Kuwaiti ruler, described as “immune and inviolable” in the Constitution.

Kuwait has penalised several Twitter users in recent months for slurs against the Emir. In April a Kuwaiti court gave an opposition politician five years in jail for insulting the emir, but an appeals court overturned the sentence.

Al-Ajmi has not yet been taken into custody and can appeal the sentences.

Iraq: At Least 13 Killed in Bombings

The death toll from today’s car bombs and a suicide attack, in two towns north of Baghdad, is now at least 21.

Thirteen people died and more than 50 were wounded in a double car explosion and a suicide bomber in Diyala Province, Another car bomb hit a market in Taji, 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Baghdad, killing at least eight more people.

Iraqi police also defused bombs planted at two oil wells near the northern city of Kirkuk.

Iraq: At Least 13 Killed in Bombings

At least 13 people were killed
when two car bombs exploded and a suicide attacker targeted a market on Monday.

The attackers struck in Jadidat al-Shatt in Diyala Province, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Baghdad.

Nearly 2,000 people have been killed in attacks since April, the highest toll since late 2008.

Yemen: At Least 7 Killed in Clashes in Capital

At least seven people have been killed and at least 30 wounded in a gunfight amid protests at the National Security Agency building in the capital Sanaa.

The violence broke out as Houthi insurgents demanded the release of political detainees. An official claimed they fired at guards with automatic weapons and grenades as they tried to storm the intelligence headquarters.

Ali al-Bokhayti, a Houthi leader, said five members of the group were killed, blaming the security forces for the deaths.

The Houthis have been in a long-running dispute with the central Government over demands for autonomy in the north of the country.

Turkey: Rival Demonstrations on Sunday

Amid ongoing tensions between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has held a Cabinet meeting in the Kurdish city of Erbil.

The Cabinet session was followed by a meeting between al-Maliki and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani and talks between Cabinet ministers and Kurdish regional counterparts.

At a joint press conference with Barzani, the Prime Minister said he and Barzani did “not have a magic wand to fix all these problems in one go — nut it is necessary to have a willingness to solve them”.

Barzani said the Cabinet session marked “an important visit” and described it as a “start for removing all the problems.”

The meeting was held days after the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad issued a strongly-worded statement calling for Kurdish forces to withdraw from disputed territory. The KRG has also provoked al-Maliki by signing oil development contracts with companies such as Exxon Mobil, Total, and Chevron, after months of dispute with Baghdad over division of revenues.

Al-Maliki’s spokesman Ali Mussawi told Agence France-Presse that the Arbil meeting would be followed by a Cabinet session in the western province of Anbar, where anti-Government protests have been surging since December. He did not specify a date.

Turkey: Rival Demonstrations on Sunday

Neither protesters nor the Erdogan Government show any sign of retreat. Ten days after police failed to suppress gatherings in Istanbul against the re-development of Gezi Park — and instead sparked a national response with their crackdown — both the demonstrators and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed defiance on Sunday.

Tens of thousands returned to Istanbul’s Taksim Park, the symbolic centre of the protests, and there were large rallies in other cities. Erdogan countered with speeches to supporters in three cities, culminating in the capital Ankara:

Don’t you see this? How can you attack my police? There are those who side with those swearing against the prime minister of this country. We are going to show patience, but patience has a limit as well. Those who hide behind the protestors should first learn what politics is.

The Prime Minister, maintaining the plans to clear trees for a replica Ottoman-era military barracks in Gezi Park, challenged his opponents to defeat him in elections and warned of more use of force: “If you continue like this, I will be obliged to speak in a language that you understand. We will respond accordingly.”

The demonstrations in Istanbul were peaceful, but police confronted thousands of protesters in Ankara for a second straight day with tear gas and water cannons.

Hearing news of the crackdown, the tens of thousands in Istanbul chanted slogans such as “Resist Ankara, Taksim is with you.”