Energised by the killing of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, thousands of protesters in Syria and Yemen poured into the streets and said their longtime rulers will be next.
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s security forces opened fire on the protesters, killing at least 24 people nationwide on Friday, according to activists. It did not stop the crowds from chanting, “Your turn is coming, Bashar.”
Yemenis delivered a similar message to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who survived an assassination attempt in June. “Gaddafi is gone, and you’re next, oh butcher,” they chanted.The armed rebellion that drove Gaddafi from power - with NATO air support - appears to have breathed new life into the uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world.
“Our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you, Libya!” Syrian protesters chanted Friday.
All Arab Spring uprisings have given Syrian protesters hope. One banner read, “Ben Ali fled, Mubarak is in jail, Gaddafi is killed, Assad ... ?”
The uprisings in Syria and Yemen have proved remarkably resilient even as the governments relentlessly try to crush the revolts. The UN estimates the Syrian crackdown has killed some 3,000 people since March; in Yemen, the figure is believed to be around 500 since late January.
In Washington, state department spokesperson Mark Toner decried the “appalling” violence by the Syrian government. ap