People power in Iran

It is still too early to tell the ultimate impact in the Middle East of the popular uprising in Egypt. But so far the most significant ripple from Mubarak's downfall, more important than the demonstrations in Yemen, Bahrain or even Algeria, is renewed opposition activity in Iran. Thousands demonstrated against the regime yesterday, the biggest upsurge since protests against President Ahmadinejad's disputed election in 2009.

The security forces have responded brutally, shooting dead at least one protester in Tehran. The call from 50 conservative Iranian MPs today for opposition leaders to be executed gives some idea of the religious Right's discomfort with open democracy.

Yet Foreign Secretary William Hague has merely called on the Iranian government to show restraint. That is not good enough. We should unequivocally back the protesters, as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done. A democratic Iran would not only improve life for Iranians ground down by a hard-line, authoritarian regime. It would also reduce tensions in the region caused by the Ahmadinejad government's endless provocations. We should support these courageous protesters. standard

Note: US... UK... where's EU?!*

* Ha! Course... that british lady...

Libyan protesters clash with police

Hundreds of anti-government protesters have clashed with police overnight in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. The protests were reportedly triggered by anger at the arrest of a human rights campaigner.

Meanwhile, Libyan state television said rallies were being held across the country in support of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The online edition of Libya's privately owned Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi, reported that demonstrators had petrol bombs and threw stones. guardian