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As the wave of pro-democracy, self-determination protests spread across the cradle of civilization, Reader Supported News will bring you the latest updates with uncensored and uncompromising coverage.

A girl wears a Syrian flag painted on her face during a demonstration against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad outside the country's embassy in London, 05/07/11. (photo: Andrew Winning/Reuters)
A girl wears a Syrian flag painted on her face during a demonstration against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad outside the country's embassy in London, 05/07/11. (photo: Andrew Winning/Reuters)

Suicide Bombers Attack Afghan Governor Killing 22

By Associated Press

14 August 11

CHARIKAR, Afghanistan (AP) - A team of six suicide bombers — some wearing explosive vests - stormed a provincial governor's compound in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 22 people in the latest high - profile attack to target prominent Afghan government officials, authorities said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in the Parwan provincial capital of Charikar, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Kabul. The province is home to Bagram Air Field, a sprawling base for U.S. and NATO troops.

The coordinated assault is the most recent in a string of spectacular Taliban attacks within an hour's drive of Kabul - a worrying sign of the insurgency's strength near the heart of the country and its determination to target Afghanistan's nascent leadership. READ MORE


Security Forces Fire On Protests In Syria

By Al Jazeeera and agencies

12 August 11

Security forces in Syria have again used deadly force to clamp down on protests as citizens gathered across the country for Friday prayers and to call for the end of President Bashar al-Assad's government, according to activists and witnesses in the country.

At least 17 people have reportedly been killed in a number of cities and towns, including Douma, Aleppo, Homs, Hama and Deir ez-Zor.

Security forces fired on protesters in the Midan district of Damascus, one activist said, though he added that he could not see if anyone had been injured or killed.

In two other suburbs of the capital, Douma and Saqba, five people were reportedly killed, he said.

One man was killed early on Friday while trying to flee when security forces began arresting residents in Saqba, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told the AFP news agency.

In Homs, north of the capital, one man was shot and killed as security forces fired on worshippers leave the Aadawiyya Mosque following prayers, a local activist told Al Jazeera.

Another man was killed in Hama near the Tawheed Mosque when security forces opened fire after prayers.

Hama has been under a military siege since the beginning of Ramadan, and local activists report at least 200 people have died there, while more than 1,000 have been arrested. READ MORE


Libya and Syria: Humanitarian War is a “Monstrous Illusion”

By Institute for Public Accuracy

10 August 11

Peck is author of the new book ”Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-Opted Human Rights.” He was a Senior Editor at Pantheon Books for almost two decades where his authors included J. William Fulbright, Noam Chomsky, George Kennan, and Edward Said. He also worked in China for more than a decade as Executive Director of the US-China Book Publication Project. Peck is the author of “Washington’s China” and editor of ”The Chomsky Reader.” He said today: “The war in Libya today, and calls for intervening in Syria tomorrow, epitomize a tragic development in the human rights and humanitarian ethos: War and various other kinds of overt and covert intervention are being re-legitimized through Washington’s human rights rhetoric. Libya tells us everything we should not be seeking to do in Syria and why humanitarian war is a monstrous illusion.

“The widespread support in the human rights community for all kinds of interference from ‘democratization,’ to ‘nation-building,’ to promoting the ‘rule of law,’ now risks blending into rationales for war itself. This is suggestive of nothing so much as a profound failure of the human rights community to expose how and why the U.S. government has fashioned human rights for over four decades into a potent ideological weapon for purposes having little to do with the rights of others — and everything to do with furthering Washington’s strategic objectives. READ MORE


Taliban Who Shot at US Helicopter 'Are Dead'

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

10 August 11

An air strike by NATO-led forces in Afghanistan has reportedly killed Taliban fighters, including a local leader, who were responsible for a weekend helicopter crash that left dozens of US navy SEALs and Afghan troops dead.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement: "The [Wednesday] strike killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah and the insurgent who fired the shot associated with the Aug 6 downing of the CH-47 helicopter, which resulted in the deaths of 38 Afghan and coalition service members."

The statement did not say explicitly that the Taliban fighters had shot the helicopter down, although it was the clearest indication yet from NATO sources that it was the likely cause.

The top US commander in Afghanistan also spoke about Monday's retaliatory mission. READ MORE


US Drone 'Kills 23 in Training Camp Strike'

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

10 August 11

A US drone strike has killed at least 23 suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region along the Afghanistan border, officials said.

Pakistani officials on Wednesday said the unmanned aircraft fired two missiles, destroying a vehicle and a compound 3km east of Miranshah, the headquarters of the Haqqani network and a known hotbed of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters

"The dead included local Taliban as well as some Arabs and Uzbek nationals," a Pakistani official in North Waziristan said on condition of anonymity.

Officials said 14 of the dead were Afghan fighters belonging to the Haqqani group, a Taliban-linked faction fighting the US in Afghanistan. Six were Pakistani fighters supporting the group, which Washington regards as one of its deadliest foes in the region, the officials told the Associated Press. READ MORE


31 US Troops Killed in NATO Helicopter Crash

By Al Jazeera and agencies

06 August 11

A NATO helicopter has crashed in eastern Afghanistan during a battle with the Taliban, killing at least 31 US and seven Afghan soldiers, a statement from the Afghan president's office said.

The statement on Saturday said a troop-carrying Chinook helicopter had crashed in Syedabad in central Maidan Wardak province, west of capital Kabul, and identified the Americans as special forces troops.

The Taliban quickly claimed to have shot down the helicopter during a firefight. They also said eight of their fighters were killed in the fighting.

"They wanted to attack our muhahideen who were in a house, but our mujahideen resisted and destroyed a helicopter with a RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) rocket," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

However, sources on the ground told Al Jazeera "that the helicopter was apparently taking off from a roof of a building during this operation when it then crashed,"

"It is looking like it is going to be one of the single largest losses of life for coalition forces in Afghanistan in the last 10 years," said Bernard Smith, our correspondent in Kabul. READ MORE


Syria: “People Are Being Slaughtered Like Sheep”

By The Associated Press

04 August 11

Gunmen in plainclothes are randomly shooting people in the streets of the besieged Syrian city of Hama and families are burying their loved ones in gardens at home for fear of being killed themselves if they venture out to cemeteries, a resident said Thursday.

Military forces on Sunday launched an offensive against anti-government dissent in Hama and at least 100 people have been killed since, according to human rights groups. Phones, Internet and electricity have been cut or severely hampered for days. The resident told The Associated Press people are being forced to ration food and share bread to get by during the holy month of Ramadan, when many Muslims fast from dawn to dusk then celebrate with large, festive meals after sundown.

"People are being slaughtered like sheep while walking in the street," said the resident, who spoke by phone on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. "I saw with my own eyes one young boy on a motorcycle who was carrying vegetables being run over by a tank." He said he left Hama briefly through side roads to smuggle in food supplies. READ MORE


Palestinians Fear For Ancient West Bank Water Source

By Tom Perry, Planet Ark

03 August 11

Hewn from rock, the cavernous cisterns which dot the desert beyond Bethlehem have for centuries harvested winter rain to provide shepherds and their flocks with water through summer.

Under a baking sun, an elderly Bedouin explains how cisterns he remembers from childhood, many of them restored to full working order in the last few years, are once again helping his goat-herding community to survive.

That, he concludes, is why the Israeli authorities who control the West Bank have demolished at least three in the area since November.

"Maybe they are doing this to make us leave. We will not leave," said Falah Hedawa, 64, sitting on cushions in his tent home pitched in the hills that slope down to the Dead Sea. READ MORE


No Let-Up In Karachi Violence

By Al Jazeera and agencies

03 August 11

There has been more violence in the Pakistani city of Karachi, where at least 42 people have been killed since Monday.

Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister warned on Tuesday of stern action against those involved in the latest round of violence in the country's commercial capital, blaming "criminals and militants" for the unrest.

The Pakistani interior minister said at least 18 of the killings targeted political activists, and that the government had prepared a plan to tackle the deteriorating law and order situation in the city.

"We will take every possible action to restore peace in Karachi," he said, adding that results of the government's action will be visible soon.

Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Karachi, said: "As this violence is still going on, people aren't listening." READ MORE


Mubarak Pleads 'Not Guilty' at Cairo Trial

By Al Jazeera and agencies

03 August 11

Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak has denied charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters at the start of his historic trial in Cairo.

"I categorically deny all the charges," Mubarak said at his first court appearance on Wednesday. The ousted president spoke from a hospital stretcher where he lay inside a cage for defendants in the court.

The spectacle, in a temporary court at the police academy in the capital, aired live on state television. Presiding judge Ahmed Refaat later adjourned the trial, announcing that proceedings would resume on August 15.

It was the biggest humiliation for Egypt's former president since his ouster nearly six months ago after an 18-day uprising. But it went a long way to satisfy one of the key demands that has united protesters since February 11, the day he was toppled.

Mubarak faces charges including premeditated murder, the killing of protesters, the failure to use his power to stop abuses against civilians, and his collusion with other individuals in the misuse state funds. READ MORE


Why I Fled Syria’s Army

By Babak Dehghanpisheh, The Daily Beast

03 August 11

Abu Hamid takes a long drag from a hand-rolled cigarette and exhales. “The Syrian Army doesn't defend the country or the nation,” he says, wagging a thick index finger. “This is the [Bashar] Assad Army. They are allowed to do everything to protect the regime.” Abu Hamid, a stocky 42-year-old with a salt-and-pepper beard, should know. Until recently, he served as a first lieutenant in the Syrian Army, based in the city of Homs. Disgusted by the Army crackdown, Abu Hamid, a 23-year veteran of the military, ditched his uniform and escaped from Syria to Lebanon with his family one month ago.

Since then, the military crackdown against opposition protesters has only ramped up and gotten bloodier. The Syrian military stormed the town of Hama with tanks and troops Sunday, killing at least 100 people, according to opposition activists. A number of smaller towns around the country were also assaulted, leaving at least two dozen dead. The attacks were the most widespread crackdown against protesters in weeks and appeared to be an attempt to squash the opposition before the holy month of Ramadan started Monday. The opposition has laid out detailed plans to ramp up its anti-regime protests during Ramadan. The deadly attacks, which continued Monday with shelling and tank fire in Hama, led to a strong rebuke from President Barack Obama. “The reports out of Hama are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime,” he said. READ MORE


Syrian Tanks Open Fire on Protesters, Scores Killed

By Nour Ali, Guardian UK

31 July 11

Scores of people have been shot dead and there were reports of bodies lying in the streets of the opposition stronghold of Hama following a tank assault as Syrian troops unleashed an apparent nationwide offensive targeting protesters against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Videos posted online showed columns of black smoke rising from Hama after tanks moved in at dawn, with witnesses reporting indiscriminate firing at citizens. Residents shouted "God is great!" and threw firebombs and stones at the tanks as they pushed through the city.

Assad's forces also opened fire in the eastern cities of Deir Ezzor and Al Boukamal and the southern town of Hirak. READ MORE


Leader of Rebel Military in Libya is Reported Killed

By David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

29 July 11

BENGHAZI, Libya — The top rebel military commander was killed Thursday, and members of his tribe greeted the announcement with gunfire and angry threats. The violent outburst stirred fears that a tribal feud could divide the forces struggling to topple the Libyan dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

The leader of the rebels’ provisional government, Mustapha Abdul Jalil, announced Thursday evening without providing details that unnamed assassins had killed the commander, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, and two other officers. READ MORE


Islamists Flood Square in Cairo in Show of Strength

By Anthony Shadid, The New York Times

29 July 11

CAIRO — Tens of thousands of Egyptian Islamists poured into Tahrir Square on Friday calling for a state bound by strict religious law and delivering a persuasive show of force in a turbulent country showing deep divisions and growing signs of polarization.

The shape of Egypt five months into its revolution remains distinctly undecided, and Islamists have long been the best organized political force in this religiously conservative country. Some activists speculated that their show of strength would serve as a wake-up call to the secular forces who helped to start the revolution but who remain divided, largely ineffectual and woefully unprepared for coming elections.

Others speculated that it might force groups to pick sides in a country where the glow of unity after President Hosni Mubarak’s fall in February has dimmed amid recriminations over the pace, style and substance of change.

“Islamic, Islamic,” went a popular chant. “Neither secular nor liberal.” READ MORE


Syria: Violence In the Dark

By Evan Hill, Al Jazeera

29 July 11

When widespread protests broke out in Syria in March, President Bashar al-Assad's regime turned to its feared security services to smother the anti-government movement.

The bloody response has so far succeeded where other attempts to put down the "Arab awakening" have failed, and President Assad remains in power.

Verifying the toll of the crackdown is difficult, since the government has banned most journalists and observers, but activists and researchers say more than 10,000 people have been detained and at least 1,500 killed since March. A response of proportional size in the United States, by way of comparison, would have meant more than 136,000 people detained and 20,450 killed.

At least 66 people are believed to have died while in the custody of Syrian authorities, according to a list provided by activists to Human Rights Watch researcher Nadim Houry in June.

Outside audiences have encountered the regime's brutal response primarily through grainy YouTube footage and second-hand accounts relayed by expatriate activists.

These brushstrokes paint a useful yet broad picture: a dozen people killed in this city, a thousand people protesting in that city.

But first-hand accounts from those who have been through the packed cells of Assad's jails or those who have come under gunfire from his troops offer a more personal understanding of the uprising.

Recently, Al Jazeera spoke with six men, three of whom were in Syria, and three of whom had left the country. All had been arrested or seen relatives suffer at the hands of the security services.

Their stories, which are available below, portray a violent state system in a spasm of panic, unsure of what it is confronting, yet nevertheless determined to crush it. READ MORE


Britain Recognises Libyan Rebels and Expels Gaddafi's London Embassy Staff

By Nicholas Watt, Guardian UK

27 July 11

Britain is expelling the Libyan chargé d'affaires and all eight remaining Libyan embassy staff in London after David Cameron and William Hague ruled that Libya's national transitional council (NTC) was now the "sole governmental authority" in the country.

The chargé was summoned to a meeting at the Foreign Office, where he was given three days to leave Britain.

Other diplomats at the Libyan People's Bureau, in Knightsbridge – which has been under heavy police guard since the launch of the military campaign in March – have been told to leave over the course of the summer.

Hague announced the expulsions at a Foreign Office press conference on Wednesday as he invited the NTC to nominate an ambassador and other diplomats to take over the Libyan mission.

The foreign secretary said: "The prime minister and I have decided that the United Kingdom recognises and will deal with the national transitional council as the sole governmental authority in Libya. READ MORE


Syrian Security Forces Shelling Homs

By Al Jazeera and agencies

21 July 11

Activists in Syria say the country's third largest city, Homs, has been attacked by the army. Videos released on the internet suggest security forces fired on densely populated parts of Homs with tank shells and machine guns.

It is claimed at least 40 people have been killed across the city in the past week as the authorities continue to use deadly force to contain the anti-government uprising that started four months ago.

One resident told the Reuters news agency by phone that the army fired at worshippers in eastern Khalidiya district as they left the Khaled Ibn al-Walid mosque in the early hours of Thursday morning.

"There is heavy military deployment in Homs; military checkpoints are everywhere in the city. There is heavy shooting in Bab al-Sebaa, one house was burned and the humanitarian conditions are dire," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based independent rights monitor, said in a statement. READ MORE


Gaza Fishermen Defy Naval Blockade

By Nicole Johnston, Al Jazeera

21 July 11

Emboldened by the 'Freedom Flotilla's' attempt to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza by sea, some Gazan fishermen have been trying to sail beyond the three nautical mile limit imposed by Israel. The Oslo Accords allowed fishermen to work within 20 nautical miles of the coast, but Israel later reduced the limit on the premise that allowing more space will potentially allow Gazans to receive smuggled weapons.

Israel responds to the fishers' actions with water cannons, and sometimes with live gunfire. READ MORE


Missing' Iranian Actress In Prison

By Al Jazeera and agencies

21 July 11

An Iranian actress and blogger was arrested as she prepared to leave for Germany to write a blog for the Deutsche Welle radio station about the women's football World Cup, the semi-official ISNA news agency has reported.

Pegah Ahangarani, 27, was arrested last week, ISNA said on Monday, citing the prosecutor's office in Tehran.

It is unclear why the actress has been arrested and what charges she might be facing.

Ahangarani had been arrested briefly in 2009 after the disputed presidential elections over charges of playing a role in the post-election riots. Ahangarani is the daughter of Iranian filmmakers Manijeh Hekmat and Jamshid Ahangarani. The investigation into her case was continuing, ISNA said.

Deutsche Welle said Monday it has learned from people close to Ahangarani that the actress is being detained in Tehran's Evin prison. The broadcaster urged Iranian authorities to immediately release her. READ MORE


West Prepares to Hand Rebels Gaddafi's Billions

By Justin Vela, The Independent UK

16 July 11

More than 30 countries yesterday recognised Libya's rebel movement as the legitimate government as they tried to end the war and unseat a defiant Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The statement by nations meeting in Istanbul for the fourth time since Nato attacks against Gaddafi's regime began in March could allow the US to free up more than $30bn of Gaddafi's assets held by American banks for the opposition fighters.

France has agreed to unfreeze $250m in assets for the opposition, while Italy pledged to unfreeze an additional $100m. Kuwait and Qatar reportedly have given about $100m to the opposition. READ MORE


Syrian Security Forces 'Fire On Rallies'

Al Jazeera and agencies

15 July 11

As many as 27 protesters have been killed across Syria after security forces reportedly shot at protesters, hundreds of thousands of whom took to the streets in the biggest protests so far against Bashar al-Assad's rule.

Police fired live ammunition and teargas in the capital Damascus, killing five people, and in southern Syria near the Jordanian border, where four people were killed, the Reuters news agency said quoting witnessess and activists.

Three protesters were shot dead in the northern city of Idlib, they said.

"We are in Midan and they are firing teargas on us, people are chanting," a witness said by telephone from the centre of Damascus. READ MORE


US Recognises Libyan Opposition Group

Al Jazeera and agencies

15 July 11

The US has joined 30 other nations in formally recognising Libya's main opposition group as the country's legitimate government until a new interim authority is created.

Friday's decision, which declared Muammar Gaddafi's government no longer legitimate, will potentially free up money that the rebels fighting the Libyan leader's forces urgently need.

The final statement by the so-called Contact Group on Libya, meeting in the Turkish city of Istanbul, said the "Gaddafi regime no longer has any legitimate authority in Libya", and Gaddafi and certain members of his family must go.

The group said it would deal with Libya's main opposition group - the National Transitional Council, or NTC - as "the legitimate governing authority in Libya" until an interim authority is in place.

Gaddafi rejected the Contact Group's decision on Libyan televison. READ MORE


Violence in Yemen Leaves 10 Dead; Protests Persist

Ahmed Al-Haj, Associated Press

15 July 11

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — At least 10 Yemenis were killed Friday in fighting between government forces and tribesmen seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh, officials said, raising fears about a collapse of security during a popular uprising in the Arab world's poorest country.

The violence began when armed tribesmen attacked a military convoy, killing a colonel and two of his aides near Sharab, 12 miles (20 kilometers) northwest of Taiz, security officials said. Hours later, the Yemeni army fired tank and artillery shells into Taiz, killing at least seven civilians and wounding more than 30 others, according to medical officials.

Yemen's army has been shelling the outskirts of Taiz, Yemen's second-largest city, to try to dislodge the tribesmen who have joined forces with anti-government protesters. READ MORE


Crowds in Syria Attack U.S. and French Embassies

Nada Bakri, The New York Times

15 July 11

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Pro-government demonstrators attacked the American and French embassy compounds in Damascus, Syria, on Monday, angered over visits by the ambassadors to a central Syrian city that has emerged as a flashpoint of the popular uprising against the government.

The demonstrators threw rocks, eggs and tomatoes at the two buildings and tried to storm both compounds. But American Marine guards blocked their way at the United States Embassy, and French guards fired live ammunition into the air to drive the attackers away, according to witnesses. Several injuries were reported, but no deaths.

An eyewitness in Afif, the old quarter of the capital where the American Embassy is located, said that demonstrators tore down embassy plaques and tried to break security glass. The witness, who declined to be identified because of the delicacy of the situation, said the protesters traveled to the embassy in four buses, and that some of them were armed. READ MORE


Arab League to Back Palestinian Statehood Campaign

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

15 July 11

The Arab League is backing the campaign for recognition of an independent Palestinian state at the United Nations. At a meeting in Qatar, Arab League members agreed to ask the United Nations to accord Palestinians full member status in the General Assembly. Palestinian leaders want the United Nations to recognize an independent state in the Occupied Territories with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Obama administration has vigorously campaigned against the move, and Congress has approved a measure threatening Palestinians with a cutoff of aid if they persist. In Ramallah, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat urged the United States to end its support for the occupation. READ MORE


Pakistan Security to Shoot On Sight in Karachi

Ashraf Khan, Associated Press

08 July 11

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Security forces were ordered to shoot gunmen on sight Friday in Pakistan's largest city, as four days of violence left at least 71 people dead and prompted political leaders to call for a day of mourning that shut businesses and kept public traffic off the roads.

This week's violent spate in Karachi was among the worst this year for a city that has long been a hotbed of ethnic, sectarian and political tensions. It came just days after the city's most powerful political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, said it was leaving the federal ruling coalition to join the opposition.

Such political shifts involving the MQM have historically been accompanied by violence in Karachi, though it and other parties active in the city deny stirring the tensions. READ MORE


New Protests Rage Across Egypt

By Al Jazeera

08 July 11

Thousands of demonstrators have flooded Cairo's now-iconic Tahrir Square and other rallying points across the country to demand immediate reforms and swifter prosecution of former officials from the toppled government of Hosni Mubarak.

Friday's "March of the Million", as protesters are calling the new uprising, is expected to be the biggest demonstration since the fall of Mubarak on February 11.

Many Egyptians feel that little has changed since the regime was forced out, and the nationwide protests are the latest calls for the country's interim military rulers to provide a roadmap towards democracy, jobs and infrastructure improvements.

Most of Egypt's political parties and coalitions, including the Muslim Brotherhood, supported widespread calls for the protest to be staged across Egypt. Hundreds of protesters gathered in Suez and Alexandria, among other locations.

"The main frustration here is over the release of the officers accused of killing protesters during the revolution is the main focus of the people here," said Al Jazeera correspondent Sherine Tadros from Suez. "What people here are asking for is justice and faster trials of those responsible for the killings of protesters. READ MORE


'Half a Million' Protest On Streets of Hama

By Al Jazeera and agencies

08 July 11

More than 500,000 people took to the streets of Hama on Friday, according to activists, in what they said was the biggest protest yet against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Opposition activists reported 13 killed, including five deaths in the central city of Homs, two in the capital's commercial neighbourhood Midan and six in the area of Dumair, east of Damascus.

Syrian state-run TV said the deaths in Damascus and Homs were caused by snipers from "armed gangs".

An activist told Al Jazeera that Hama, where marchers were seen carrying olive branches, had become a "tangible example of resistance to injustice" in Syria.

Hundreds of thousands also protested last Friday, prompting mass arrests and reports of several deaths when Syrian security forces subsequently moved into the city, Syria's third largest, and the surrounding area.

"Hama with all the support it is receiving from all over the country is becoming a role model for peaceful demonstrations and we are protesting here for all of Syria," the local activist said. READ MORE


Nato Strikes At Libya's Oil in Bid to Oust Gaddafi

By Kim Sengupta, The Independent UK

08 July 11

Nato forces have attacked Libya's oil facilities for the first time in this conflict in an attempt to starve Muammar Gaddafi's army of fuel, as rebels, following fierce clashes, moved to within 50 miles of the capital Tripoli.

The airstrikes on the complex at Brega, one of the countries' biggest petrochemical complexes and port for export, was designed, says Nato, to prevent regime troops from mounting attacks.

Control of Brega and the adjoining city of Ras Lanuf has changed hands several times in the course of the bitter civil war. It is now under the control of the regime, denying the opposition administration based in Benghazi a highly lucrative source of income. READ MORE


21 Dead As Taliban Storm Kabul Hotel

By Usman Sharifi, AFP

29 June 11

KABUL (AFP) – Heavily armed Taliban militants stormed a top Kabul hotel, sparking a ferocious battle involving Afghan commandos and a NATO helicopter gunship that left at least 21 dead including the nine attackers.

Officials said all of the gunmen were killed during the night-time raid on the hilltop Intercontinental Hotel, frequented by Westerners and Afghan officials, part of which was left in flames as tracer bullets lit up the sky.

The state-owned 1960s hotel, which is not part of the global InterContinental chain, was hosting delegates attending an Afghan security conference and a large wedding party when the insurgents struck late Tuesday.

The interior ministry said nine Afghan civilians -- mostly hotel workers -- and two police officers were killed in the brazen assault and another 18 people were wounded. It said a ninth dead Taliban militant had been identified. READ MORE


Italy Wants Out of Libya

By Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Daily Beast

25 June 11

In March, Italy reluctantly joined the NATO - led mission to implement a no - fly zone to protect Libyan civilians, offering up seven airbases and it's own Tornado fighter jets for the cause. But now that the mission has turned into a full - fledged offensive to oust Muammar Gaddafi at any cost, Italians want out. "An immediate cessation of hostilities is necessary," said Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Wednesday. "We have seen the effects of the crisis and also of NATO action."

Frattini was referring to the accidental slaughter of nine civilians due to a "weapons malfunction" when NATO troops errantly hit a residence in Tripoli last Sunday. Frattini also pointed to a "serious humanitarian crisis" and the need to open a safe corridor for humanitarian aid that is currently being blocked from reaching remote parts of the country. READ MORE


Scores Killed in Attack on Afghan Clinic

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

25 June 11

At least 30 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack at a hospital in Afghanistan. Estimates of the casualties, which included patients and medical staff, varied widely as chaos enveloped the facility in Azra district of eastern Logar province, which is just south of capital Kabul. Dozens more were wounded in the attack.

Deen Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the Logar provincial government, said as many as 35 people were killed, although Afghanistan's Interior Ministry put the death toll at 20. "The exact target is still not clear," Interior minister deputy spokesman Najib Nikzad said. President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack in which he said "tens of civilians" were killed.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied responsibility for the attack. "We condemn this attack on a hospital ... whoever has done this wants to defame the Taliban," he said. Din Mohammad Darwaish said the bomber had been driving an "an SUV packed with explosives". READ MORE


Hundreds of Syrians Flee to Lebanon

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

25 June 11

Up to 1,000 Syrians have fled across the border into Lebanon over the past two days in a bid to escape the escalating violence in Syria. A Lebanese security official said on Saturday that those crossing had entered northern Lebanon near the border town of Wadi Khaled, a day after activists said 20 people were killed in anti - government protests in Syria.

He said six of those coming through the al-Qusair crossing had gunshot wounds and had been taken to hospital.

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from the Lebanese capital, Beirut, said the number of Syrians fleeing to Lebanon was increasing but could not be compared to the situation on the Turkey - Syria border, where nearly 12,000 people are sheltering on the Turkish side. READ MORE


Libyan State Media Says NATO Airstrike Kills 15

By Adam Schreck, Associated Press

25 June 11

Libyan authorities on Saturday accused NATO of killing 15 people in an airstrike that hit a restaurant and bakery in the east, though the alliance said there were no indications that civilians had died.

It was the latest outcry from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's government blaming NATO for killing civilians amid a four-month uprising that has sparked a civil war. NATO insists it does all it can to avoid such casualties.

Meanwhile, rebel representatives said their fighters were coordinating around the country for the "zero hour" when their forces would reach the capital of Tripoli. READ MORE


Britain and US Urged To Act After Bahrain Arrests Eight Political Activists

By Richard Spencer, UK Telegraph

24 June 11

Britain and America were under renewed pressure last night to act against their close ally Bahrain after its courts handed out life sentences to eight political activists, including a wheelchair-bound dissident who was arrested after speaking to the House of Lords.

The eight politicians and human rights activists were among 21 people, most but not all Shia, accused of plotting against the monarchy and having contacts with foreign terrorist groups.

All 21 received jail terms, seven in absentia, with nine receiving 15 years and four shorter terms. Protesters set up barricades in Shia villages across the island last night, amid anger from human rights groups. READ MORE


US Warns Americans Against Participation In Gaza Flotilla

By Tabassum Zakaria, Reuters

21 June 11

The United States updated a travel warning urging Americans to refrain from travelling to the Gaza Strip by sea and emphasizing risks, including a possible 10-year travel ban to Israel.

The new State Department travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, said Americans could face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by Israel. "The Government of Israel has announced its intention to seek 10-year travel bans to Israel for anyone participating in an attempt to enter Gaza by sea," the notice said. READ MORE


Attacking Libya - and the Dictionary

By Jonathan Schell, Los Angeles Times

21 June 11

The Obama administration has come up with a remarkable justification for going to war against Libya without the congressional approval required by the Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973. American planes are taking off, they are entering Libyan airspace, they are finding their targets, they are dropping bombs, and the bombs are killing and injuring people and destroying things. One can see this as a good war or a bad war, but surely it is a war.

Nonetheless, the Obama administration insists it is not a war. Why? Because, according to "United States Activities in Libya," a 32 - page report that the administration released last week, "U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors."

In other words, the balance of forces is so lopsided in favor of the United States that no Americans are dying or are threatened with dying. War is only war, it seems, when Americans are dying - when we die. When only they - the Libyans - die, it is something else for which there is as yet apparently no name. READ MORE


Promoting Militarism While Hiding Bloodshed

By David Sirota, Truthdig

19 June 11

In a breathless story somehow presented as a groundbreaking revelation, The New York Times recently reported that the Pentagon is - shocker! - using all sorts of media channels to market itself to the nation's children. Though the Times presents this as a brand - new development, it is nothing of the sort. The armed forces have spent the last three decades carefully constructing a child - focused Military - Entertainment Complex, which has long had the Pentagon subsidizing everything from video games to movies - most of which glorify militarism to kids.

That said, the Times piece did include one important (if buried) piece of genuine news. It concerns a subtle - yet - insidious shift in martial propaganda - one that opens the military up to charges of rank hypocrisy. READ MORE


Libyan Civilians Said Killed in NATO Airstrike

By Adam Schreck and Hadeel Al-Shalchi, Associated Press

19 June 11

The Libyan government accused NATO of bombing a residential neighborhood in the capital and killing civilians early Sunday, adding to its charges that the alliance is striking non - military targets. At least four people, including two children, were reported killed.

It was not possible to independently verify the government's account of what happened and NATO said it was investigating. The alliance has repeatedly insisted it tries to avoid killing civilians. Whether they are eventually confirmed or not, the allegations are likely to provide supporters of Moammar Gadhafi's regime a fresh rallying point against the international intervention in Libya's civil war.

Shortly after the airstrikes before dawn Sunday, journalists based in the Libyan capital were rushed by government officials to the destroyed building, which appeared to have been partially under construction. Reporters were escorted back to the site during the day, where children's toys, teacups and dust - covered mattresses could be seen amid the rubble. READ MORE


War Powers Act Does Not Apply to Libya, Obama Argues

By Charlie Savage and Mark Landler, The New York Times

16 June 11

he White House, pushing hard against criticism in Congress over the deepening air war in Libya, asserted Wednesday that President Obama had the authority to continue the military campaign without Congressional approval because American involvement fell short of full-blown hostilities.

In a 38-page report sent to lawmakers describing and defending the NATO-led operation, the White House said the mission was prying loose Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's grip on power.

In contending that the limited American role did not oblige the administration to ask for authorization under the War Powers Resolution, the report asserted that "US operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve US ground troops." Still, the White House acknowledged, the operation has cost the Pentagon $716 million in its first two months and will have cost $1.1 billion by September at the current scale of operations. WATCH SLIDESHOW


Libyan Conflict Splits Apart Families


In Pictures: Marchers Flood Sanaa Streets in Yemen

By Al Jazeera

16 June 11

Anti-government protesters made perhaps their strongest showing in weeks on Tuesday afternoon, just days after celebrations following the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Saudi Arabia.

The protesters moved from the "tent city" surrounding Change Square, along al-Firqa Street, onto Sixtieth Street, then Rabat Street, and finally returned to the same square.

Across Yemen, the opposition has declared they will take it upon themselves to form a transitional council to rule the country if vice president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi does not create one soon. WATCH SLIDESHOW


The Libyan Sex Atrocity Reporting

By Russ Baker, WhoWhatWhy

15 June 11

Stories with a sexual component have always been instant hits in the ratings, and things are only getting worse. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, last week, media coverage of Congressman Anthony Weiner and his pornographic tweets filled 17 percent of the "news hole" (space and time devoted by the media). The economy, by comparison, accounted for 11 percent. The Middle East also got 11 percent.

Actually, a greater percentage had something in common when you count stories on wieners of all kinds. Because a rapidly spiraling scandal involves the allegation that the embattled Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi ordered his troops to commit mass rape - and gave them Viagra to help fortify them in this atrocity.

As we noted previously, that story has been reported widely throughout the world. As we also noted, there’s scant evidence that it is true - at least at this point. Moreover, it shows signs of being part of a larger disinformation effort of the sort that has always been part and parcel of war. (A war whose true purposes, as you can see from an earlier analysis we did, is consistently obscured.) READ MORE


Iraqi Human Rights Activists Protesting for Democracy Are Sexually Assaulted and Beaten

By MADRE - Press Release

10 June 11

Today, MADRE learned that pro-democracy activists who gathered in Baghdad's Tahrir Square were brutally attacked by un-uniformed forces. MADRE's Iraqi partner group, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), states that activists who gathered in the square to continue their weeks of protests for democracy, jobs and an end to corruption were beaten by armed men who were unleashed to disperse the protests.

OWFI also reports that women were specifically targeted for sexual attacks. Four young women OWFI activists were violently groped and sexually assaulted, and one 19-year-old woman was attacked by a group of men who attempted to forcibly strip off her clothes. One woman lost a tooth in the attack. Another OWFI activist, a young man, tried to intervene and was severely beaten. READ MORE


May Is Deadliest Month for Afghan Civilians Since 2007: U.N.

By BBC News

10 June 11

The UN says May was the deadliest month for civilians in Afghanistan since 2007, when the organisation started recording civilian casualties. The UN said "anti-government elements" were responsible for 82% of the 368 "conflict-related civilian deaths".

"Pro-government forces", including Nato, caused 45 of the deaths. The news came as several deadly insurgent attacks killed at least 18 people, most of them civilians, in the volatile south and east of the country.

Fifteen people, including eight children and four women, were killed when a bomb blast hit their vehicle in the southern province of Kandahar, the Interior Ministry said. READ MORE


US Defense Sales to Bahrain Surge Prior to Crackdown

By Stephen Braun, Associated Press

10 June 11

A government report says the US approved $200 million in military sales from American companies to Bahrain in 2010, months before the pivotal Persian Gulf ally began a harsh crackdown on protesters. The yearly State Department report provides totals of US-authorized arms sale agreements between US defense companies and foreign governments. The latest tally showed a $112 million rise in licensed defense sales to Bahrain, home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet, between the 2009 and 2010 budget years.

The US had green-lighted $88 million in military exports to Bahrain in 2009. Much involved aircraft and military electronics, but the US also licensed $760,000 in exports of rifles, shotguns and assault weapons in 2010. Since mid-February, the kingdom has confronted demonstrators with cordons of armed military and police firing live ammunition. At least 31 people have died and hundreds more injured in the clashes.

The possibility that American-built weapons might have been used against protesters has raised questions in Congress and led the department to review its defense trade relationships with several Middle East nations. READ MORE


Obama Hides Meeting With Top Bahraini Leader - And Mutes Criticism of Ongoing Crackdown

By Amy Goodman, Nabeel Rajab, Juan Gonzales, Democracy Now!

10 June 11

British Apache and French attack helicopters struck targets for the first time in NATO's campaign in Libya, hitting Moammar Gadhafi's troops early Saturday near a key coastal oil city, the alliance said.

Amidst an intensifying crackdown on anti-government protesters in the tiny Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain, President Obama met Tuesday with Crown Prince Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa, a visit that was not announced beforehand. We speak with Nabeel Rajab, president of Bahrain's Center for Human Rights, based in Manama. "On the ground, we don't see anything, any signal, that makes us optimistic that the government has the willingness to go for a dialogue with the opposition and to listen to the grievances and the demands of the people," says Rajab, noting that soldiers from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Bahrain continue to arrest protesters and the doctors treating those injured during pro-democracy demonstrations. READ MORE


Syrian Forces Advance on Restive Town Near Turkey

By Sebnem Arsu and Liam Stack

10 June 11

KARBEYAZ, Turkey —Backed by tanks and helicopters, Syrian forces swept into the restive northern village of Jisr al-Shoughour late Friday, pressing an offensive against a town that has offered the stiffest challenge yet to four decades of Assad family rule.

Syrian state television reported that troops began arresting members of “armed organizations,” but gave no indication whether there was any fighting taking place. Frightened residents who fled the town, with more than 1,000 crossing into Turkey, said those who remained behind were armed and prepared to fight, setting the prospect of an uneven battle.

The Syrian forces stormed into the town after a day-long drive north , in which they burned fields and fired on civilians as they closed in. Only days earlier, the Syrian government said that 120 soldiers and police were killed in the town, representing the worst attack on government forces since popular protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad began in March. Syrian authorities became especially spooked when troops began to defect and local residents took up arms. It is READ MORE


Witnesses: Helicopter Gunships Fire at Syria Protest

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Reuters

10 June 11

Syrian helicopter gunships fired machineguns to disperse a large pro-democracy protest in the town of Maarat al-Numaan on Friday, witnesses said, in the first reported use of air power to quell protests in Syria's uprising.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that helicopters fired at the town after security forces on the ground killed five protesters, but said no killings were reported in the assault by the helicopters.

"At least five helicopters flew over Maarat al-Numaan and began firing their machine guns to disperse the tens of thousands who marched in the protest," one of the witnesses said by telephone.

"People hid in fields, under bridges and in their houses, but the firing continued on the mostly empty streets for hours," said the witnesses, who gave his name as Nawaf. READ MORE


Gaddafi Forces Shell Libya's Misrata, 10 Killed

By Khaled al-Ramahi, Reuters

10 June 11

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shelled the rebel-controlled town of Misrata on Friday, killing at least 10 people.

A Reuters journalist saw the bodies at the hospital in the besieged port city and heard the barrage strike.

Pressing ahead with a campaign to help end Gaddafi's rule, NATO warplanes pummeled a town west of the capital Tripoli despite unmet calls from the United States and Britain for more allies to share the logistical burden of the bombing missions.

Russia, which has voiced misgivings over the use of foreign military force and has extensive commercial interests in Libya, wants to mediate reconciliation between Tripoli and the rebels. READ MORE


British, French Helicopters Strike Gadhafi Troops

By Hadeel Al-Shalchi, Associated Press

04 June 11

British Apache and French attack helicopters struck targets for the first time in NATO's campaign in Libya, hitting Moammar Gadhafi's troops early Saturday near a key coastal oil city, the alliance said.

The action was a significant step-up in NATO's operations and a major boost to Libyan rebels, just a day after rebel fighters forced government troops from three western towns and broke the siege of a fourth in yet another erosion of Gadhafi's power since the eruption in mid-February of the uprising to end his 42-year rule.

NATO said the helicopters struck troops trying to hide in populated areas, military vehicles and equipment. Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, commander of the Libya operation, said the engagement "demonstrates the unique capabilities brought to bear by attack helicopters." READ MORE


In Yemen, Civil War Comes to Saleh's Door

By Jeb Boone, The Christian Science Monitor

03 June 11

Yemen slipped closer to a full-blown civil war today as opposition tribesmen attacked the compound of President Ali Abdullah Saleh for the first time. While the president appears to have narrowly escaped serious injury, the escalating fighting represents an unprecedented challenge to his 32-year rule.

Mr. Saleh has long faced down opposition to his rule from disparate groups, spending vast amounts of blood and treasure to placate tribal leaders, northern rebels, and southern secessionists. But now Saleh's diverse rivals have coalesced around the nonviolent youth protest movement inspired by Egypt, presenting a more unified challenge to his grip on power. READ MORE


Crafting Chaos: Presidential Games and Yemen's Escalating Violence

By Lara Aryani, Jadaliyya

03 June 11

I am sitting in the dark, having enjoyed a remarkable 6 consecutive hours of electricity today in our house near the "Square of Fear," a roundabout in an affluent neighborhood of Sana'a that sits between the houses of General Ali Mohsen and Hamid al-Ahmar. The sounds of mortars, missiles and gunfire echo from across the city in al-Hasaba, where Al Jazeera will tell me tomorrow morning that 41 people were killed overnight. If we were to believe Yemen State Television and the Deputy Minister of Information, electricity outages and shortages of water, cooking gas, gasoline and diesel are to be blamed on Yemen's opposition coalition of parties, the Joint Meeting of Parties (JMP), who apparently has "cut these services." It seems like the regime is at a point where it cannot be fussed to produce some remotely plausible act to attribute to the JMP - which has no control over any of these services - just as the regime could not bother to dress in plainclothes the soldiers who decimated Freedom Square in Taiz, killed at least 57 protesters, went door to door arresting activist leaders who survived the massacre and are rumored to continue roaming the streets of Taiz in death squads. The regime's attempts to disclaim responsibility for violence are becoming increasingly perfunctory. READ MORE


Security Forces Attack Bahraini Protesters

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

01 June 11

Bahraini troops have attacked anti-government protesters in several villages near the capital Manama, witnesses say.

Despite the lifting of martial law on Wednesday, regime forces fired tear gas on protesters who had poured into the streets to stage protest rallies in villages around Manama, including Diraz, Bani Jamrah and Karzakan, according to witnesses.

One activist reported a heavy security presence in Bani Jamrah and said about 30 women had gathered in front of his house, but security forces used batons and tear gas to disperse them.

"With the end of the emergency situation, the security would not be here but they still are," said Ali Zirazdi, a 30 year-old man, who said police had fired tear gas after a few hundred people gathered in the predominantly Shia village of Diraz.

"The security presence is even stronger and their approach now is as soon as they hear of any protest in advance, they come down to stop it from happening," Zirazdi added. READ MORE


Violence Erupts in Yemen Cities After Cease-Fire Fails

By Iona Craig, Los Angeles Times

01 June 11

Reporting from Sana, Yemen—Yemen's capital and other cities again erupted into violent chaos Tuesday after a cease-fire collapsed between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and tribal fighters, who seized at least four government buildings.

The heavy fighting in Sana began late Monday evening as Saleh's Republican Guard troops and supporters of his rival tribal chief Sadiq Ahmar pounded each other in fresh clashes. Mortar-shell explosions and gunfire ripped the air early Tuesday. READ MORE


What Pakistan Doesn’t Want You to Know About Osama bin Laden's Couriers

By Issam Ahmed, Christian Science Monitor

01 June 11

Kotkai, Pakistan – Osama bin Laden’s couriers, Arshad and Tariq Khan – who were killed alongside him during the raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan – were born and raised in Kuwait after their Pakistani father settled there to become an imam, according to relatives and other residents in their ancestral village.

The residents’ accounts, confirmed by a Pakistan security official, suggest the couriers may have become radicalized in Kuwait. Meanwhile, the residents also report being intimidated by intelligence agencies, which are under the spotlight today after a prominent Pakistani journalist has been found dead.

Pakistan’s intelligence agencies swooped in to detain cousins and other close relatives of the couriers from Kotkai, a village in Pakistan’s mountainous Shangla district last week – weeks after Mr. bin Laden’s death on May 2. A similar raid in the city of Lahore picked up a handful of relatives. READ MORE


Egyptians Protest Over "Virginity Tests" on Tahrir Square Women

By Xan Rice, Guardian UK

01 June 11

Egyptian activists will hold an online protest on Wednesday to press the military leadership to investigate soldiers who abused pro-democracy demonstrators, including women who were detained and forced to take "virginity tests".

The interim authority, formed after Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February, has come in for increasing criticism from the youth movement for the slow pace of its reforms, and intolerance of dissent.

The abuse of the women, which was confirmed by a senior army official, has caused particular anger, and prompted a storm of protest on the internet.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had previously denied claims by Amnesty International that 18 women detained in March were subjected to virginity checks and threatened with prostitution charges. READ MORE


Tortured and Killed: Hamza al-Khateeb, age 13

By Al Jazeera

01 June 11

Hamza al-Khateeb used to love it when the rains came to his small corner of southern Syria, filling up the farmers' irrigation channels enough so that he and the other children could jump in and swim. But the drought of the last few years had left the 13-year-old without the fun of his favourite pool.

Though not from a wealthy family himself, Hamza was always aware of others less fortunate than himself, said a cousin who spoke to Al Jazeera. "He would often ask his parents for money to give to the poor. I remember once he wanted to give someone 100 Syrian Pounds ($2), and his family said it was too much. But Hamza said, 'I have a bed and food while that guy has nothing.' And so he persuaded his parents to give the poor man the 100."

In the hands of President Bashar al-Assad's security forces, however, Hamza found no such compassion, his humanity degraded to nothing more than a lump of flesh to beat, burn, torture and defile, until the screaming stopped at last. Arrested during a protest in Saida, 10km east of Daraa, on April 29, Hamza's body was returned to his family on Tuesday 24th May, horribly mutilated. READ MORE


Increasing Food Shortage in Libya's West


Street Battles in Yemen Capital Leave 41 Dead

By Ahmed Al-Haj, Associated Press

01 June 11

Republican Guard shelling and pre-dawn street battles between government forces and rival tribal fighters killed at least 41 people in the capital Wednesday. There were growing signs of disarray in beleaguered President Ali Abdullah Saleh's military.

Fighting raged until 5 a.m., and witnesses said Presidential Guard units shelled the headquarters of an army brigade responsible for guarding sensitive government institutions. Army officers who have defected to the opposition say the government suspected the brigade commander was about to join forces with the movement to oust Saleh.

Opposition army officers, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with army rules, said the armored brigade commander, Brigadier-General Mohammed Khalil, was neutral and without political affiliation but had apparently angered Saleh. The 41 dead included combatants from both sides of the conflict, said the medical officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. READ MORE


Violence Escalates Across Yemen


Footage Captures 'Western Troops on the Ground' in Libya

By Julian Borger and Martin Chulov, Guardian UK

30 May 11

Armed westerners have been filmed on the front line with rebels near Misrata in the first apparent confirmation that foreign special forces are playing an active role in the Libyan conflict.

A group of six westerners are clearly visible in a report by Al Jazeera from Dafniya, described as the westernmost point of the rebel lines west of the town of Misrata. Five of them were armed and wearing sand - coloured clothes, peaked caps, and cotton Arab scarves.

The sixth, apparently the most senior of the group, was carrying no visible weapon and wore a pink, short - sleeve shirt. He may be an intelligence officer. The group is seen talking to rebels and then quickly leaving on being spotted by the television crew. READ MORE


'Scores Defect' From Gaddafi's Army

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

30 May 11

The high-ranking Libyan army officers appeared at a press conference in Italy on Monday, where they announced that they were part of a group of as many as 120 military officials and soldiers who defected from Gaddafi's side in recent days.

The hastily called news conference was organised by the Italian government for the the eight officers - five generals, two colonels and a major.

"What is happening to our people has frightened us," said one officer, who identified himself as General Oun Ali Oun. "There is a lot of killing, genocide ... violence against women. No wise, rational person with the minimum of dignity can do what we saw with our eyes and what he asked us to do." READ MORE


Egypt Opens Rafah Border With Gaza

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

28 May 11

Palestinians welcome easing of four-year blockade on coastal enclave - a move ushered in by Egypt's new leaders.

Egypt has reopened its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, allowing the coastal territory's Palestinian residents to cross freely for the first time in four years - a sharp departure from the policies of Hosni Mubarak, the deposed president. The opening on Saturday morning provided long-awaited relief for Palestinians. The move was ushered in by Egypt's new government in a bid to ease the suffering of the territory's residents.

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said there will still be restrictions in place, preventing men younger than 40 from leaving the enclave, which is ruled by the Palestinian group, Hamas. "It will allow basically all women to leave Gaza, also children under the age of 18 years will be allowed to leave, as well as men over the age of 40 years. However, those between the ages of 18 and 40 years will require an Egyptian visa," she said. READ MORE


Russia Agrees to Mediate Gaddafi Exit

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

27 May 11

Russia has agreed to mediate the exit of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's leader, after leaders at the Group of Eight (G8) meeting in France called on Russia to take the role. Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, told reporters on Friday that "Gaddafi has forfeited legitimacy" and that Russia is ready "to help him go".

Soon after, Mikhail Margelov, Moscow's special representative on Africa told reporters that his country is ready to negotiate Gaddafi's departure.

Margelov explained that Russia is in contact with Gaddafi's entourage, and that they are willing to negotiate Libyan leader's fate. READ MORE


Egypt to Open Palestine Border Crossing Permanently

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

26 May 11

Egypt will permanently open its Rafah border crossing starting from Saturday, the country's official news agency reported, easing a four-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The news agency MENA said on Wednesday that Egypt's new military rulers had set the date for the opening of the crossing as part of efforts "to end the status of the Palestinian division and achieve national reconciliation." It said the Rafah border crossing would be opened permanently, starting on Saturday, from 9am to 9pm every day except Fridays and holidays.

Minha Bakhoum, spokeswoman for the Egyptian foreign ministry, told Al Jazeera that the decision was taken to ease the suffering of Gaza residents. "This comes in the context of the decision taken by the new Egyptian government to help end the disunity between Palestinian factions, in the absence of any resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," she said. READ MORE


Volunteers Continue to Fight in Libya


Dozens Die in Renewed Yemeni Clashes

By Agencies

25 May 11

At least 38 people have been killed in heavy fighting in the Yemeni capital between government loyalists and guards of a tribal leader who has sided with protesters demanding an end to president Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule, reports say. Witnesses said the two sides exchanged sporadic gunfire in Sanaa on Tuesday.

The resumption of clashes after a nighttime lull dimmed prospects for a political solution to a three-month revolt inspired by protests that swept aside the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. "Gunmen and soldiers spread out everywhere and the sound of gunfire can be heard from time to time," one witness told the Reuters news agency.

A security official said 14 soldiers were killed in the fighting and 20 others were missing. A hospital official said 24 tribesmen were killed. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Fighting in the same area on Monday killed seven people, including a civilian bystander. READ MORE


Syrian Death Toll 'Surpasses 1,000'

By Agencies

25 May 11

Syrian government forces are being blamed for the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians in a nine-week crackdown on nationwide anti-government demonstrations.

Amar Qurabi, head of the Egypt-based National Organisation for Human Rights, said on Tuesday that his group has documented the names of 1,062 people killed since mid-March, along with the locations of where they died. He also said more than 10,000 people have been arrested by authorities during the protests.

Meanwhile, Sawasiah, a Syrian human rights organisation, said on Tuesday that it had the names of 1,100 people who it reported were killed mostly in the southern Hauran Plain region, where the uprising first erupted. The rights organisation, founded by jailed human rights lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani, said it had reports of another 200 civilians deaths, but did not have names. READ MORE


Mubarak to Face Trial for Killing of Protesters

By David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

24 May 11

Egypt's top prosecutor on Tuesday ordered former President Hosni Mubarak to stand trial in connection with the killing of unarmed protesters during the 18 - day - revolt that forced him from power, yielding to one of the revolution's top demands just days before many of its organizers had vowed to return to Tahrir Square for another day of protest.

In a statement, Egyptian prosecutor Mahmoud Abdel-Meguid said he would also charge Mr. Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, with corruption and self - dealing. The prosecutor also plans to file charges against a businessman close to the family, Hussein Salem. Among other ventures, Mr. Salem was part owner of a company involved in an Egyptian government deal to sell natural gas to Israel that is now under investigation.

If Mr. Mubarak is convicted on the accusations, he could potentially face the death penalty. READ MORE


Will US Keep Aid Flowing to Yemen's Saleh After Embassy Siege?

By Dan Murphy, The Christian Science Monitor

24 May 11

An armed mob of government loyalists threatening the lives of a major chunk of the foreign diplomatic corps, including the US ambassador. A daring helicopter rescue. Chaos and tribal gunmen in the rest of the capital. Just another Sunday in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, where an exquisitely timed show by gunmen loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh staved off the signing of a transition plan backed by the US and Gulf states, and increased the chances that Yemen's uprising will deteriorate into all-out war.

President Saleh's 32 years in power have been well-served by his penchant for presenting himself as Yemen's "essential" man, the only one who can hold back the tide of chaos and disorder. He's secured hundreds of millions of dollars from the US with this tactic. It appears he decided yesterday to remind the world of the risks if he's forced to withdraw from power.

At what point does the US consider cutting off Saleh's financial spigot? It's an interesting question. The Washington counterterrorism establishment sees the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as the next big thing, and would probably argue that maintaining decent relations with the guy in power is crucial. But what happened yesterday came pretty close to a hostage-taking of a US ambassador by a guy on the US payroll. That's generally frowned upon. READ MORE


Wary of Wider Defiance, Saudis Arrest Woman Driver

By Maggie Michael, Associated Press

24 May 11

A Saudi woman was arrested for a second time for driving her car in what women's activists said Monday was a move by the rulers of the ultraconservative kingdom to suppress an Internet campaign encouraging women to defy a ban on female driving.

Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself," urging authorities to lift the ban and posted a video clip last week of al-Sherif behind the wheel in the eastern city of Khobar. The page was removed after more than 12,000 people indicated their support for its call for women drivers to take to the streets in a mass drive on June 17. The campaign's Twitter account also was deactivated.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women - both Saudi and foreign - from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor. Saudi clerics, from the hard-line Wahhabi school of Islam that is the official doctrine of the kingdom, insist the ban protects against the spread of vice and temptation because women drivers would be free to leave home alone and interact with male strangers. READ MORE


Syrians Speak of Deaths in Custody


EU Imposes Sanctions on Syrian Leader Assad

By Don Melvin, Associated Press

23 May 11

The European Union imposed sanctions Monday on Syrian President Bashar Assad because of his government's continuing crackdown on anti-government protesters, condemning the violence in which more than 900 people have reportedly been killed.

The 27-nation bloc instituted an assets freeze and a visa ban on Assad and nine other members of his regime. Earlier this month, the EU sanctioned 13 people with links to the Syrian regime, but Assad was not among them. A European official said at the time that the omission was part of a deliberately gradual approach.

But the killing of anti-government protesters has continued unabated. Syrian security forces opened fire on a funeral procession for slain anti-government protesters Saturday, pushing the number of people reported killed in the two-month uprising to more than 900 and making it one of the deadliest of the recent uprisings in the Arab world. READ MORE


Revolution Halts Tourists Visiting Egypt


Taliban Car Bomb Blasts US Convoy In Pakistan

By Riaz Khan and Nahal Toosi, Associated Press

21 May 11

A Taliban car bomb struck an armored vehicle taking American government employees to the U.S consulate in northwest Pakistan on Friday in a strike the militants said was to avenge the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. A Pakistani passer-by was killed and two Americans suffered minor injuries in the attack in the city of Peshawar, officials said. At least 10 other Pakistanis were wounded. The strike was the first on Westerners since the May 2 U.S. commando raid on bin Laden's hide-out in an army town around three hours from Peshawar.

The Pakistani Taliban, an al-Qaida-allied group behind scores of attacks in recent years, claimed responsibility.

"We say to the Americans and NATO that we will carry out more deadly attacks and we can do it," Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said in a phone call from an undisclosed location. "We had warned that we will avenge the martyrdom of Osama." READ MORE


NATO Strikes 'Hit Libyan Warships'

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

21 May 11

The NATO military alliance says it has sunk eight warships belonging to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

The ships were targeted in co-ordinated overnight attacks on the ports of Tripoli, Al Khums and Sirte, the alliance announced on Friday.

The deputy commander of the NATO mission in Libya said the air strikes were needed to protect civilians and NATO forces at sea.

Shelling was also heard in the Ghabat al-Qasr neighbourhood of the capital, Tripoli, in the early hours of Friday.

NATO, acting under a UN mandate, has been carrying out air strikes on Libya since Gaddafi used force to put down a revolt inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world. READ MORE


Syrian Protests Draw Deadly Fire

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

21 May 11

Syrian security forces have killed at least 34 people, including an 11-year-old boy, according to witnesses, in the latest crackdown on anti-government protests. Twelve people were killed in the central city of Homs, while 15 died in the town of Maaret al-Naaman, located near the western city of Idlib, activists said.

Two protesters were shot in the southern region of Deraa, one person was shot in the Damascus suburb of Daraya and one in the port city of Latakia. Two more died in the eastern town of Deir Ezzor and one person killed in the central town of Hama. The dead in Homs included two boys, named as Aiham al-Ahmad, 11, and 16-year-old Ahmad Bakr, witnesses said.

The attack took place after officers drove police cars into a crowd of about 2,000 demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them, a second witness said. After hitting several protesters, one of the cars crashed into a wall, prompting the officers to jump out and open fire. Four other protesters were also killed, while at least seven others were wounded. READ MORE


Yemen's Saleh Says Wants Early Presidential Election

By Hammoud Mounassar, Agence France-Presse

21 May 11

Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Friday he wants early presidential polls, as his party and the opposition insisted a Gulf plan seeing him out in 30 days will be signed as planned. "We call for an early presidential election in a democratic way, in order to avoid bloodshed," Saleh told thousands of rallying supporters, after nearly four months of deadly protests demanding his departure.

He spoke a day after officials from his ruling party and the opposition said a Gulf-brokered deal that would see him leave office within the following 30 days was to be inked on Sunday. Saleh said his people will remain steadfast against the "coup movement", in reference to nearly four months of protests demanding his departure after 33 years in office.

The statement appears to be a new manoeuvre by the president, who is facing mounting pressure from Gulf neighbours and allies in the United States to fulfill his commitment to step down. READ MORE


Medea Benjamin | Obama, Follow Your Own Advice on Non-Violence

By Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis, Reader Supported News

20 May 11

Given that President Obama daily authorizes the firing of hellfire missiles and the dropping of cluster bombs in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, it was awful odd seeing him wax eloquent this week about the "moral force of non-violence" in places like Egypt and Tunisia. But there he was, the commander-in-chief of the largest empire in history, praising the power of peaceful protest in countries with repressive leaders backed by his own administration.

Were we unfamiliar with his actual policies - more than doubling the troops in Afghanistan, dramatically escalating a deadly drone war in Pakistan and unilaterally bombing for peace in Libya - it might have been inspiring to hear a major head of state reject violence as a means to political ends. Instead, we almost choked on the hypocrisy.

Cast beforehand as a major address on the Middle East, what President Obama offered with his speech on Thursday was nothing more than a reprisal of his 2009 address in Cairo: a lot of rhetoric about US support for peace and freedom in the region contradicted by the actual - and bipartisan - US policy over the past half-century of supporting ruthless authoritarian regimes. Yet even for all his talk of human rights and how he "will not tolerate aggression across borders" - yes, a US president said this - Obama didn't even feign concern about Saudi Arabia's repressive regime invading neighboring Bahrain to put down a pro-democracy movement there. In fact, the words "Saudi Arabia" were never uttered. READ MORE


Dorothy Parvaz: Inside Syria's Secret Prisons

By Al Jazeera

20 May 11

I was standing in two fist-sized pools of smeared, sticky blood, trying to sort out why there were seven angry Syrians yelling at me. Only one of them - who I came to know as Mr Shut Up during my three days in a detention center, where so many Syrians 'disappeared' are being kept - spoke English.

Watching them searching my bags, and observing the set of handcuffs hanging from the bunk bed wedged behind the desk in the middle of the room, I guessed that I was being arrested - or, at the very least, processed for detention. "Why are you doing this?" I asked. "Shut up! SHUT UP!" said Mr Shut Up.

I'd arrived there moments before, dragged by a handful of hair from a car where I'd been wedged between two armed men. They'd tried to convince me that they were taking me to my hotel, but, of course, I knew that there was no way plain-clothed security personnel would be kind enough to escort me to my accommodation. READ MORE


Robert Fisk on President Obama's MiddleEast Speech



US Quietly Expanding Defense Ties With Saudis

By Robert Burns, Associated Press

19 May 11

Despite their deepening political divide, the United States and Saudi Arabia are quietly expanding defense ties on a vast scale, led by a little-known project to develop an elite force to protect the kingdom's oil riches and future nuclear sites.

The US also is in discussions with Saudi Arabia to create an air and missile defense system with far greater capability against the regional rival the Saudis fear most, Iran. And it is with Iran mainly in mind that the Saudis are pressing ahead with a historic $60 billion arms deal that will provide dozens of new US-built F-15 combat aircraft likely to ensure Saudi air superiority over Iran for years.

Together these moves amount to a historic expansion of a 66-year-old relationship that is built on America's oil appetite, sustained by Saudi reliance on US military reach and deepened by a shared worry about the threat of al-Qaida and the ambitions of Iran.READ MORE


Gadhafi's Forces Shell Rebel Mountain Stronghold

By Diaa Hadid and Michelle Faul, Associated PressR

19 May 11

Moammar Gadhafi's forces shelled the main rebel stronghold in a strategic mountain range southwest of the Libyan capital on Thursday, pounding the area with rockets, a resident said.

The Nafusa mountains, which slice across the desert south of Tripoli to the western border with Tunisia, have been a key zone of opposition since the early days of the uprising against Gadhafi's more than 40-year rule in mid-February. Although Gadhafi's forces control most of western Libya, rebels have linked up with the mountain area's minority Berbers to keep his forces out of the highest points, denying them a military advantage.

On Thursday, rebels fought to hold back government troops rocketing their positions to the east and southeast of the city of Zintan, the rebel command center for the mountain range, a Zintan resident said. He spoke by telephone on condition of anonymity out of fear of government reprisals. READ MORE


Al Jazeera Journalist Dorothy Parvaz Released >From Detention

By Al Jazeera

18 May 11

Al Jazeera has confirmed the release of its journalist, Dorothy Parvaz, who was detained in Syria upon her arrival in Damascus nineteen days ago, while on assignment. During that time she was not allowed any contact with the outside world. She landed in Doha, Qatar on May 18 on a flight from Iran.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said: "I'm delighted to let you know that Dorothy Parvaz has been released and is safe and well and back with us in Doha. She has been in contact with her family, and we are with her now to find out more about her ordeal over the last nineteen days." READ MORE


Russia 'To Oppose Use of Force Against Syria'

By Agencies

18 May 11

President Medvedev comes out against any UN move to authorise use of force, saying Syria must settle own affairs.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, has said Russia would not support any United Nations resolutions on the use of force against the Syrian government. "As for a resolution on Syria, I will not support such a resolution even if my friends and acquaintances ask me about it," Medvedev told reporters during a rare news conference on Wednesday, arguing Syria must be allowed to settle its domestic affairs.

He did not specify what he meant, adding that such resolutions were open to interpretation. In March, Medvedev ordered Russia to abstain from the UN Security Council resolution on Libya that essentially authorised military action. He later accused the West of exceeding the UN’s mandate and of becoming entangled in a military operation in Libya READ MORE


Syria 'Tightens Security Grip' in Border Area

By Agencies

16 May 11

At least 15 Syrian tanks have pushed into a rural area near the Lebanese border, where security forces have been concentrating their latest crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrations, human rights activists have said. The activists, who said they were in contact with residents there, said the tanks deployed around Arida, near the Jisr al-Qomar border crossing point with northern Lebanon, on Monday.

Witnesses on the Lebanese side of the border told the Reuters news agency that they had heard the sound of gunfire throughout the night. Activists said Syrian troops and armed men had entered the town of Talkalakh, also near the Lebanese border, on Saturday after protests erupted against the rule of Bashar al-Assad, the president.

An activists' protest group said at least seven Syrian civilians were killed on Sunday when troops shelled the town and sniper fire killed another civilian on Monday, raising the death toll from the army's assault, which began on Saturday, to 12. More than 5,000 Syrians have fled to Lebanon in recent weeks as Assad's security forces try to crush the uprising against his government. READ MORE


The Arab Spring's Second Wave

By Leila Hudson and Dylan Baun, Al Jazeera

16 May 11

The current uprisings differ from their predecessors, marked by a series of more violent crackdowns.

With the Arab Spring stretching toward summer, the feel-good memories of Egypt and Tunisia are receding into the distance. Marred by ugly sectarian violence in Egypt and on-going scuffles between police and protesters ahead of the July elections in Tunisia, even the success stories of 2011 are permeated with unease over what lies ahead.

The world's attention is now on a second wave of Middle Eastern uprisings - Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. These protests are characterised by the same quest for universal values as in Egypt and Tunisia in their early days of rebellion: freedom of expression, democratic reforms, an end to economic and political corruption, and a determined resistance to sectarian splits. Why then have they failed to yield even the short-term triumphs of their late winter predecessors? READ MORE


Hague Prosecutor Seeks Indictment of Gadhafi for War Crimes

By Mike Corder, Associated Press

16 May 11

The International Criminal Court prosecutor asked judges Monday to issue arrest warrants for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and two other senior members of his regime, accusing them of committing crimes against humanity by targeting civilians in a crackdown against rebels.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo says Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi ordered, planned and participated in illegal attacks.

He said Gadhafi's forces attacked civilians in their homes, shot at demonstrators with live ammunition, shelled funeral processions and deployed snipers to kill people leaving mosques. READ MORE


Arab Protesters Descend on Israeli Borders

By Aron Heller, Associated Press

15 May 11

Mobilized by calls on Facebook, thousands of Arab protesters marched on Israel's borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday in an unprecedented wave of demonstrations, sparking clashes that left at least 15 people dead in an annual Palestinian mourning ritual marking the anniversary of Israel's birth.

In a surprising turn of events, hundreds of Palestinians and supporters poured across the Syrian frontier and staged riots, drawing Israeli accusations that Damascus, and its ally Iran, orchestrated the unrest to shift attention from an uprising back home. It was a rare incursion from the usually tightly controlled Syrian side and could upset the delicate balance between the two longtime foes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads to Washington at the end of the week, said he ordered the military to act with "maximum restraint" but vowed a tough response to further provocations. READ MORE


Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater's Founder

By Mark Mazzetti and Emily B. Hager, The New York Times

15 May 11

Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.

The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American - led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.

Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800 - member battalion of foreign troops for the UAE, according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times. READ MORE


As Arab Spring Continues, Black Markets Bloom

By Inter Press Services

15 May 11

As the Syrian uprisings escalate in violence, Lebanon's black market in arms is flourishing, with prices of light and medium weapons driven higher by Lebanese and Syrian demand. "Prices have tripled in less than two months," says Wael, a local arms dealer, whose name has been changed to protect his identity.

According to local dealers, Syrians have been crossing the borders into neighbouring Lebanon to purchase weapons since late January, when the country erupted with pro-democracy protests which were subject to bloody government crackdown.

Lebanese residents, fearing Syria's wave of violence may spread, have also started to buy light weapons. READ MORE


Scores Wounded in Sectarian Clashes in Egypt

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

15 May 11

Clashes between Coptic Christians and unidentified assailants at a sit-in near the state television building in Cairo have left 78 people injured, the Egyptian health ministry said. The head of the Coptic church in Egypt called on Sunday for his followers to end their protests, following the sporadic fighting that lasted for several hours.

During the fighting, two Christian protesters were hit by gunfire that came from a car parked on a bridge above the protest, the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported. Earlier on Sunday, state television reported that two people had died as a result of the fighting, but the health ministry said on Sunday that none had been killed.

Although Muslims and Christians came together to overthrow Mubarak, interfaith tensions have since grown and 12 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in recent clashes. READ MORE


Noam Chomsky: Arab Spring's Threat to Western Colonialism

By Noam Chomsky, Democracy Now!

14 May 11

The US and its allies will do anything they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. The reason is very simple. Across the region, an overwhelming majority of the population regards the United States as the main threat to their interests. In fact, opposition to US policy is so high that a considerable majority think the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons. In Egypt, the most important country, that's 80 percent. Similar figures elsewhere. There are some in the region who regard Iran as a threat - about 10 percent. Well, plainly, the US and its allies are not going to want governments which are responsive to the will of the people. If that happens, not only will the US not control the region, but it will be thrown out. So that's obviously an intolerable result.

In the case of WikiLeaks, there was an interesting aside on this. The revelations from WikiLeaks that got the most publicity - headlines, euphoric commentary and so on - were that the Arabs support US policy on Iran. They were quoting comments of Arab dictators. Yes, they claim to support US policy on Iran. There was no mention of the Arab - of the Arab population, because it doesn't matter. If the dictators support us, and the population is under control, then what's the problem? This is like imperialism. What's the problem if it works? As long as they can control their populations, fine. They can have campaigns of hatred; our friendly dictators will keep them under control. That's the reaction not just of the diplomatic service in the State Department or of the media who reported this, but also of the general intellectual community. There is no comment on this. In fact, coverage of these polls is precisely zero in the United States, literally. There's a few comments in England, but very little. It just doesn't matter what the population thinks, as long as they're under control. READ MORE


WikiLeaks Hailed by Amnesty International as Arab Spring 'Catalyst'

By Peter Walker, Guardian UK

14 May 11

The world faces a watershed moment in human rights with tyrants and despots coming under increasing pressure from the internet, social networking sites and the activities of WikiLeaks, Amnesty International says in its annual roundup.

"The year 2010 may well be remembered as a watershed year when activists and journalists used new technology to speak truth to power and, in so doing, pushed for greater respect for human rights," Amnesty's secretary general, Salil Shetty, says in an introduction to the document. "It is also the year when repressive governments faced the real possibility that their days were numbered."

But, Shetty adds, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, and elsewhere, remains unpredictable: "There is a serious fightback from the forces of repression. The international community must seize the opportunity for change and ensure that 2011 is not a false dawn for human rights." READ MORE


Circumventing Congress, 'Pausing' the War in Libya

By Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Reader Supported News

14 May 11

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who will introduce a bill to end the war in Libya based on the War Powers Resolution when Congress returns on May 23, 2011, today made the following statement after the The New York Times reported that "the Obama legal team is now trying to come up with a plausible theory for why continued participation by the United States [in the war in Libya] does not violate the law."

"The same legal minds that brought us the twisted logic that war against Libya did not require Congressional authorization because it was in our vital national interest, and that it is not really a war because it is a 'humanitarian intervention,' are now searching for a legal loophole to extend the war." READ MORE


Schoolgirls Beaten in Bahrain Raids (With Video)

By Al Jazeera

11 May 11

In a secretly filmed interview, 16-year-old tells how she was severely beaten amid kingdom's crackdown on protests.

Secret filming conducted by Al Jazeera has revealed shocking evidence of the brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protesters in the Gulf state of Bahrain. An undercover investigation conducted by Al Jazeera's correspondent, Charles Stratford, has unearthed evidence that Bahraini police carried out periodic raids on girls' schools since the unrest began.

In an interview "Heba", a 16-year-old schoolgirl, alleges she, along with three of her school friends, were taken away by the police from their school and subjected to severe beatings while in custody for three consecutive days. READ MORE


Missing Al Jazeera Reporter Dorothy Parvaz
Deported to Iran

By Al Jazeera

11 May 11

Missing Al Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz has been deported from Syria to Iran, the network has learned. Parvaz, who holds Iranian, American and Canadian citizenship, has been missing since she arrived at Damascus airport on April 29 to cover protests in Syria.

Syrian officials had previously told Al Jazeera the 39-year-old was being held in the Syrian capital and would be released. "We have now received information that she is being held in Tehran," an Al Jazeera spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We are calling for information from the Iranian authorities, access to Dorothy, and for her immediate release. We have had no contact with Dorothy since she left Doha on April 29 and we are deeply concerned for her welfare." READ MORE


Syrian Shelling Kills 18

By Zeina Karam and Elizabeth A. Kennedy, Associated Press

11 May 11

The Syrian army shelled residential areas and unleashed gunmen Wednesday, and a human rights group said at least 18 people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy. The shelling of neighborhoods evoked memories of the Assad regime's brutal, 40-year legacy of crushing dissent.

Syrian activists and protesters involved in the seven-week-long uprising renewed their cries for the world to join them in calling for embattled President Bashar Assad to give up power.

"The Syrian people are being killed and Bashar knows that he has a free hand. Nobody is really stopping him," a 28-year-old Syrian from the besieged seaside city of Banias told The Associated Press by telephone, asking that his name not be used out of fear for his own safety. READ MORE


Syrian Authorities Detain Hundreds in New Raids

By Bassem Mroue, Associated Press

09 May 11

Syrian security forces arrested hundreds of activists and anti-government protesters in house-to-house raids across the country Monday, part of an escalating government crackdown aimed at stamping out a revolt engulfing the country.

The government's punishing response triggered new international sanctions Monday, as the European Union imposed an arms embargo. The measure, which followed U.S. sanctions, also prohibits 13 Syrian government officials from traveling anywhere in the 27-nation EU and freezes their assets.

President Bashar Assad has dispatched army troops and tanks to crush the seven-week uprising that has posed the most serious challenge to his family's 40-year rule. Assad's regime appears determined to crush the uprising by force and intimidation, despite the rapidly growing international outrage and a death toll that has topped 630 civilians since the unrest began, according to rights groups. READ MORE


Frustration Mounts in Libyan City of Ajdabiya


Yemen Security Forces Fire on Protesters

By Agencies

09 May 11

Yemeni security forces have opened fire on protesters outside a government building in the southern city of Taiz, reportedly killing three persons and wounding at least 10 others.

A medical official said the body of a protester shot dead had been received at the local hospital while dozens of injured people had been admitted, among them five with bullet wounds, one in a serious condition, the AFP news agency reported on Monday.

Many demonstrators across Yemen, who include students, tribesmen and activists, have vowed to stay on the streets until Saleh, who has clung to power despite three months of protests, steps down. Around 150 people have been killed in the unrest. READ MORE


Bahrain Opposition Crackdown Continues


Pro-Gaddafi Tribal Chiefs Call for 'Amnesty'

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

07 May 11

Move comes as regime says Libya is one sovereign state and bid to fund rebels with frozen assets is 'piracy.'

Libyan tribal chiefs have urged a general amnesty for all fighters engaged in the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, even as rebels warn of an impending assault on the western city of Misurata. In a meeting that ended in Tripoli late on Friday evening, the National Conference for Libyan Tribes called for a "general amnesty law which will include all those who were involved in the crisis and took up arms."

"The general amnesty law is a means of laying the path ahead for a new era of peace and forgiveness," it said in a statement. No timetable for, nor details on, the proposed law were mentioned. The statement also referred to opposition fighters as "traitors" and pledged that tribal leaders would not "forsake" or "abandon" Gaddafi. READ MORE


Al Jazeera Demands Release of Journalist

By Al Jazeera

05 May 11

Doha, Qatar - Al Jazeera English has called for the immediate release of Dorothy Parvaz, after Syrian officials confirmed that they are holding her. Dorothy Parvaz was detained upon arrival in Damascus six days ago. She has had no contact with the outside world since. READ MORE


Deaths Reported as Thousands Protest in Syria

By Al Jazeera

05 May 11

Activists claim that up to 30 people have been killed in Syria where thousands have taken to the streets for another day of anti-government rallies, dubbed a "day of defiance". Human rights group Insan said that at least 16 people had been killed in the central city of Homs, six in Hama and two in Jableh. It said the total death toll was 26 but didn't specify where the other two deaths occurred.

A human rights activist told the Associated Press news agency that 30 people had died, while Syrian state television said an army officer and four police were killed in Homs by a "criminal gang".

Security forces killed four protesters in the city of Deir al-Zor, a local tribal leader told Reuters. READ MORE


Foreign Medics Face Siege in Libya's Nalut


US Wants to Free Frozen Libyan Assets for Rebels

By Alessandra Rizzo and Matthew Lee, Associated Press

05 May 11

The United States is trying to free up some of the more than $30 billion it has frozen in Libyan assets so it can support the opponents of Moammar Gadhafi, US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton told a conference Thursday.

Twenty-two nations and international organizations were meeting in Rome to figure out how to help the Libyan rebels, who say they need up to $3 billion in the coming months for military salaries, food, medicine and other basic supplies.

Clinton said the Obama administration, working with Congress, wants "to tap some portion of those assets owned by Gadhafi and the Libyan government in the United States, so we can make those funds available to help the Libyan people." READ MORE


Thousands of Libyans Continue to Flee Fighting


Bin Laden's Dead, Al Qaeda's Not

By Richard Clarke, The New York Times

03 May 11

The United States needed to eliminate Osama bin Laden to fulfill our sense of justice and, to a lesser extent, to end the myth of his invincibility. But dropping Bin Laden's corpse in the sea does not end the terrorist threat, nor does it remove the ideological motivation of Al Qaeda's supporters.

Often forgotten amid the ugly violence of Al Qaeda's attacks was that the terrorists' declared goal was to replace existing governments in the Muslim world with religiously pure Islamist states and eventually restore an Islamic caliphate. High on Al Qaeda's list of targets was Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak. The protesters of Tahrir Square succeeded in removing him without terrorism and without Al Qaeda.

Thus, even before Bin Laden's death, analysts had begun to argue that Al Qaeda was rapidly becoming irrelevant. With Bin Laden's death, it is even more tempting to think that the era of Al Qaeda is over. READ MORE


Iran Presses Syria Over Missing Journalist

By Al Jazeera

03 May 11

Foreign minister "demands" Syrian government look into case of missing Al Jazeera English journalist Dorothy Parvaz.

Iran's foreign minister wants the Syrian government to look into the case of an Al Jazeera journalist who has been missing in Syria since Friday afternoon. Dorothy Parvaz left the Qatari capital, Doha, for Syria to cover events in the country, but there has been no contact with the 39-year-old since she disembarked from a Qatar Airways flight in Damascus. Parvaz is an American, Canadian and Iranian citizen.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian foreign minister, said at a news conference in Doha on Monday that Iran wanted the Syrians to look into the matter. "I hope that it is not true, but if that is the case, then we demand the government of Syria to look into this," Salehi said in response to a question on what Iran would undertake to secure Parvaz's release. READ MORE


Red Cross Calls for Access to Deraa

By Agencies

03 May 11

The International Committee of the Red Cross has urged Syria to lift restrictions on access to casualties in the besieged city of Deraa, amid mounting international pressure on the Syrian regime to end its violent crackdown on protests. Deraa has been the epicentre of anti-government unrest with protesters demanding an end to Assad's presidency and the Baath Party's near-50-year rule.

Soldiers and tanks have been deployed there and in other cities in a security crackdown which activists say has claimed hundreds of lives. "The violence has resulted in a large number of casualties and we fear that if the situation worsens, more lives will be lost," Marianne Gasser, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Damascus, said on Tuesday.

"It is urgent that emergency medical services, first aid workers and others performing life saving tasks swiftly reach those in need," she added in a statement. ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan said the doctors and staff from the agency Syrian Red Crescent and other medical workers needed "immediate access to the injured." READ MORE


Is the World a Safer Place?

By Julian Borger, Guardian UK

02 May 11

The killing of Osama bin Laden provided a moment of catharsis that had eluded America for a decade. Flag-draped crowds spontaneously gathered outside the White House and at Ground Zero in Manhattan, singing the national anthem. On television, Peter Bergen, an expert on al-Qaida and one of few people in the field to have actually met its leader, declared: "Killing Bin Laden is the end of the war on terror."

The mood this morning is likely to be more sober, as Americans cast their minds back on past premature declarations of victory, in Afghanistan at the end of 2001 and at George W Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" triumphalism over Iraq in 2003. READ MORE


Osama bin Laden: Everyone's Missing the Point

By Barry Lando, Reader Supported News

02 May 11

The jubilation of Americans and Western leaders at the death of Osama bin Laden, though understandable, misses the point. In many ways, the figure gunned down in Pakistan was already irrelevant - more a symbol of past dangers than a real threat for the future.

Indeed, from the point of view of America and many of its allies, the most menacing symbol in the Arab World today is not Osama bin Laden but another Arab who recently met a violent death - Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26 - year - old Tunisian fruit vendor who chose to set himself on fire after being harassed by corrupt local police.

His act, of course, ignited the storm that has spread across the Arab World and proven a much more serious threat to America's allies in the region than al Qaeda ever was. Ironically, his sacrifice probably also dealt a far more devastating blow to al Qaeda's fortunes than the assassination of Osama bin Laden. READ MORE


Assad's Fall Would Create Shockwaves From Tehran to Tel Aviv

By Zaki Chehab, Guardian UK

01 May 11

As decades - old dictatorial regimes crumbled around him in January, Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, denied that revolution would spread to his country. Balhermep, the Ba'athist concept of "the ruling of the people", would keep his country together.

But as demonstrations in towns and villages across Syria seemed only to be spreading last week, even as the regime intensified its crackdown, that notion appeared to be unravelling.

The international consequences of regime change in Syria are many and complex. The fallout will be particularly marked in Lebanon and Palestine, and there will also be impacts on the country's alliances with Iran, Turkey, and Iraq, and, perhaps most importantly, on its relationship with Israel. READ MORE


Gaddafi's Son's Killing Puts NATO in Line of Fire

By Harriet Sherwood, Guardian UK

01 May 11

The Libyan regime's claims that NATO is attempting to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi have intensified following the apparent death of one of the leader's sons and three of his grandchildren in an air strike on Tripoli.

Gaddafi was at the one - storey house in a residential area of Tripoli when the missile struck late on Saturday, according to the government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim. In a rare acknowledgement that security around Gaddafi may not be watertight, Ibrahim told reporters that intelligence about Gaddafi's whereabouts or plans must have been leaked to NATO.

The missile struck the house of Saif al-Arab, 29, the youngest and least well - known of Gaddafi's seven sons, just after 8pm on Saturday during a family gathering. The three grandchildren who were killed were under the age of 12, said Ibrahim. READ MORE


Gadhafi Survives NATO Missile Strike, Youngest Son Killed

By Associated Press

30 April 11

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi survived a NATO missile strike Saturday that killed his youngest son and three grandchildren and wounded friends and relatives, Libya's spokesman said.

Gadhafi and his wife were in the Tripoli house of his 29-year-old son, Saif al-Arab Gadhafi, when it was hit by at least one missile fired by a NATO warplane, according to Libyan spokesman Moussa Ibrahim. READ MORE


Egypt Warns Israel: Don't Interfere With Opening of Gaza Border Crossing

By Haaretz Service

30 April 11

Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces General Sami Anan warned Israel against interfering with Egypt's plan to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on a permanent basis, saying it was not a matter of Israel's concern, Army Radio reported on Saturday.

Egypt announced this week that it intended to permanently open the border crossing with Gaza within the next few days.

The announcement indicates a significant change in the policy on Gaza, which before Egypt's uprising, was operated in conjunction with Israel. The opening of Rafah will allow the flow of people and goods in and out of Gaza without Israeli permission or supervision, which has not been the case up until now. READ MORE


Libyan Opposition Rejects Gaddafi Truce Offer

By Al Jazeera

30 April 11

Libya's opposition has rejected leader Muammar Gaddafi's latest offer of a conditional ceasefire and negotiations upon an end to NATO attacks. The opposition joined NATO on Saturday in dismissing Gaddafi's offer, saying the time for compromise had passed.

"Gaddafi’s regime has lost all credibility," Abdul Hafidh Ghoga, vice president of the opposition Transitional National Council, said in a statement. "The people of Libya cannot possibly envisage or accept a future Libya in which Gaddafi’s regime plays any role."

NATO reiterated the sentiment, saying the alliance wanted to see "not words, but actions" to stop attacks on civilians in Libya. READ MORE


Video: Security Forces in Syria Open Fire on Small Town

By Los Angeles Times

28 April 11

Syrian security forces opened fire into a crowd in the village of Sheik Miskeen near the besieged southern city of Dara on Friday, according to video posted online that could not be verified.

In the video posted on YouTube, about 100 men are seen milling around in a rural street before coming under fire. The description posted by the user says the event took place at a military checkpoint and that eight people were killed and dozens wounded. Activists said at least 24 people had been confirmed dead across the country as of early Friday evening, but that number is expected to rise in the coming hours.

More video said to have been taken in the same village appears to show army tanks and trucks moving through the streets as soldiers open fire at unseen targets. READ MORE


Egypt to Open Gaza Border Crossing

By Al Jazeera

28 April 11

Egypt is to permanently open the Rafah border crossing to ease the Israeli blockade on Gaza, Nabil al-Arabi, the country's foreign minister, has said.

Arabi said Egypt would take "important steps to help ease the blockade on Gaza in the few days to come".

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, the minister said Egypt would no longer accept that the Rafah border, Gaza's only crossing that bypasses Israel, remain blocked, describing the decision to seal it off as "shameful".

The announcement came days after Hamas, which controls Gaza, and their secular West Bank rivals Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority (PA), agreed to end their rift and form an interim government to prepare for elections. READ MORE


Palestinian Factions Fatah, Hamas Reach Unity Deal

By Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Saree Makdisi, Democracy Now!

28 April 11

The rival Palestinian political organizations, Fatah and Hamas, have reached an agreement to end a nearly five-year internal schism, form an interim government, and hold a general election within a year. The two sides have been locked in a bitter conflict since Fatah and the Bush administration tried to overthrow Gaza’s Hamas-led government in 2006 after Hamas won Palestinian national elections. Israel and the United States say they’ll reject any peace talks with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas. We speak with Saree Makdisi, professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and the author of several books, including "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation." READ MORE


Bomb Attack in Morocco Tourist Cafe Kills 15

By Youssef Boudlal, Reuters

28 April 11

A bomb killed 15 people including 10 foreigners in Morocco's bustling tourist destination of Marrakesh, state television said on Thursday, in an attack that bore the hallmark of Islamist militants.

The blast ripped through a cafe overlooking Marrakesh's Jamaa el-Fnaa square, a spot that is often packed with foreign tourists. A Reuters photographer said he saw rescuers pulling dismembered bodies from the wreckage.

State-run 2M television said the 15 dead comprised six French nationals, five Moroccans and four foreigners whose nationality it did not give. READ MORE


Syrian Soldiers 'Switching Allegiances'


Libyan Doctor: NATO Airstrike Killed 12 Rebels

By Ben Hubbard, Associated Press

28 April 11

A NATO airstrike has killed 12 rebels in the besieged city of Misrata in the latest friendly fire incident in Libya's chaotic battlefield, a doctor in the city said Thursday.

Dr. Hassan Malitan said he believed the attack was a mistake but insisted it was caused by NATO aircraft. He said the attack came moments after he and another doctor visited a site where rebels were holed up in a building about three miles (five kilometers) east of the port.

"We drove about 200 meters (yards) and we heard a huge explosion that shook the earth," Malitan said. He said he looked back and saw smoke rising from where they had just sat with the men. As he and the other doctor began slowly driving back toward the building, a second missile crashed into it, Malitan said. READ MORE


Thousands of Syrian Troops Raid City of Daraa

By Elizabeth A. KEennedy and Diaa Hadid, Associated Press

25 April 11

Thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and snipers moved in before dawn to the city where Syria's anti-government uprising began, causing panic in the streets when they opened fire indiscriminately on civilians and went house-to-house rounding up suspected protesters. At least 11 people were killed and 14 others lay in the streets - either dead or gravely wounded, witnesses said.

The military raids on the southern city of Daraa and at least two other areas suggested Syria is trying to impose military control on the centers of protests against President Bashar Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for four decades. Residents and human rights activists said the regime wants to terrify opponents and intimidate them from staging any more demonstrations.

The offensive was meticulously planned: Electricity, water and mobile phone services were cut. Security agents armed with guns and knives conducted house-to-house sweeps, neighborhoods were sectioned off and checkpoints were erected before the sun rose. "They have snipers firing on everybody who is moving," a witness told The Associated Press by telephone. READ MORE


Empowering Egypt's Workers Revolution

By Kieron Monks, Al Jazeera

25 April 11

Since the fall of Mubarak, union members have formed a new political party and are struggling for wage increases.

It has become a familiar scene in Egypt. Security forces attempted to hold back the crowd, but were swiftly overwhelmed by the chanting masses. The setting was a small, provincial courthouse in Shubra El-Kom, an industrial town 70km north of Cairo, but the modest surroundings disguised a case that will shape the course of Egypt's ongoing revolution.

April 19 marked the latest showdown in a battle between the Indonesian owners of one of the country's largest textile firms (generating $4bn annually), and their disgruntled employees. Furious over lay-offs, a lack of safety provisions and imposed changes in working hours, workers have called regular strikes since the Indonesian takeover in 2007.

"It is no problem to have foreign owners," says textile engineer Dom Atteya Mahmoud, "but they make us slaves, as dogs." Their demand is for public ownership to return. If it succeeds, a precedent would be set for hundreds more companies to be nationalised, as was a hallmark policy of Gamal Abdel Nasser's nationalist government in the 1970s. READ MORE


'No Humanity Left' in Syria

By Cal Perry, Al Jazeera

24 April 11

... and I were approaching the city of Izraa when something immediately clearly horrible was unfolding down the road directly in front of us. People, mostly truck drivers, were standing on the highway ... yelling at the cars approaching - telling them to pull over. Screaming and waving widely. I saw one making signs with his hands. He was mimicking the motion of a machine gun firing.

About 50 metres from where we pulled over was an overpass that connected Daraa to Izraa. I could see clearly a crowd of people marching from my left to my right over the bridge. Suddenly gunfire rained into the crowd. The truck drivers dove for cover. And, for what seemed like an eternity, I sat there in the car, stunned and frozen. People were falling on top of each other, being cut down like weeds in a field by what I think must have been a mix of both small arms fire and machine gun fire. I saw at least two children shot. They fell immediately. People were screaming. Gunfire rattled on.

I could not take my eyes off what was quickly becoming carnage. One of the last things I remember seeing clearly were people lying flat on the road, taking cover behind those who had already been wounded or shot dead ... lying in what must have been pools of blood to avoid a hail of flying hot hell. READ MORE


In Pictures: Misurata Battle

By Al Jazeera

24 April 11

Misurata, the only major rebel stronghold in Gaddafi-controlled western Libya, has become the most dramatic battleground in the Libyan uprising, which began in February. VIEW SLIDESHOW


NATO Missiles Strike Gaddafi Bunker

By Karin Laub and Diaa Hadid, Associated Press

23 April 11

Government troops retreated to the outskirts of Misrata under rebel fire Saturday and the opposition claimed victory after officials in Tripoli decided to pull back forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi following nearly two months of laying siege to the western city.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, said the U.S. Air Force carried out its first Predator missile strike in Libya on Saturday, but gave no details. Libyan government officials showed evidence of an airstrike near Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli that it said caused no injuries, but it was not clear if that site was the Predator's target. READ MORE


Rebels Claim Victory in Misrata

By Associated Press

23 April 11

Heavy fighting raged anew in Misrata and killed 24 people Saturday as Moammar Gadhafi's forces gave up more ground inside Libya's third - largest city. The U.S. said its first Predator drone attack in the country destroyed a government rocket launcher that had menaced civilians in the western city. Hundreds of people have been killed in rebel-held Misrata in a two-month government siege backed by tanks, mortars and snipers. On Friday night, the regime said it was withdrawing its military forces and allowing armed tribesmen to take over the battle. But the opposition was skeptical about the claim, saying it doubted Gadhafi's troops would fully depart.

Hundreds of people have been killed in rebel-held Misrata in a two-month government siege backed by tanks, mortars and snipers. On Friday night, the regime said it was withdrawing its military forces and allowing armed tribesmen to take over the battle. But the opposition was skeptical about the claim, saying it doubted Gadhafi's troops would fully depart. "Gadhafi forces are moving back," said Safi Eddin al-Montaser, a rebel spokesman in Misrata. But he added: "People are still nervous because we don't know the next step of Gadhafi's forces."

Jalal el-Gallal, a spokesman for the rebels' leadership council in their stronghold of Benghazi, said he doubted the regime will fully withdraw from Misrata. He claimed the rebels firmly control the city. READ MORE


Syria Death Toll Hits 120 Over 2 Days

By Bassem Mroue, Associated Press

23 April 11

The death toll from two days of violence in Syria reached 120 Saturday as security forces fired on tens of thousands of mourners who shouted for the regime's downfall during funeral processions, a human rights group said.

The mounting death toll prompted two Syrian lawmakers to resign in disgust over the killings. More than 300 people have been killed since the uprising against autocratic President Bashar Assad began more than five weeks ago. READ MORE


US Drones Kill 25 People in Pakistan

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

22 April 11

At least four missiles fired by two suspected US drone aircraft hit a house in Pakistan's tribal region of North Waziristan on the Afghan border on Friday, Pakistani intelligence officials say. At least 25 people were killed in the drone strike, which targeted what one Pakistani official termed a "militant guesthouse" in Hasan Khel, near the region's main town of Miranshah, Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder in Islamabad reported.

Several people were also wounded in the attack, which took place at around 4:30 am (2030 GMT), an official said, adding that the toll could be higher.

Reports indicate that at least seven women and children were among the dead, Hyder said. READ MORE


Syria Troops Kill Protesters in Country's Bloodiest Day Of Turmoil

By Katherine Marsh in Damascus and Simon Tisdall, Guardian UK

20 April 11

Syria endured its bloodiest day yet of the Arab Spring as mass protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad brought turmoil to dozens of towns and cities across the country and security forces reportedly gunned down dozens of people. Despite a string of government concessions earlier in the week, including the lifting of the hated 48-year-old emergency law, tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding greater political freedom and an end to Ba'ath party rule took to the streets after Friday prayers.

Security forces that deployed overnight close to Damascus and other key cities ignored appeals to eschew violence, opening fire with live rounds and using teargas against several pro-democracy protests, activists and witnesses reported. Although firm information was difficult to obtain, at least 75 people were reported killed, including two in Douma, at least one in Homs, at least six in the southern town of Izraa, and others in Moudamiya, outside Damascus, the activists said. With more casualties being reported by the hour, there were fears the final toll may be significantly higher. READ MORE


US Quiet As Bahrain "Dissapears" Doctors

By Jeremy Laurance, The Independent UK

20 April 11

The intimidation and detention of doctors treating dying and injured pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain is revealed today in a series of chilling emails obtained by The Independent. At least 32 doctors, including surgeons, physicians, paediatricians and obstetricians, have been arrested and detained by Bahrain's police in the last month in a campaign of intimidation that runs directly counter to the Geneva Convention guaranteeing medical care to people wounded in conflict. Doctors around the world have expressed their shock and outrage.

One doctor, an intensive care specialist, was held after she was photographed weeping over a dead protester. Another was arrested in the theatre room while operating on a patient. READ MORE


Bahrain Secret Military Trial Against Human Rights Activist

By Al Jazeera

20 April 11

A prominent Bahraini human rights activist has gone on military trial, his family said on Thursday.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was arrested with two of his sons-in-law earlier this month as part of a government crackdown on protests the tiny Gulf island country.

Police have been arresting opposition activists at checkpoints set up across Manama, the capital, and in certain villages.

So far, hundreds of people, many of them opposition activists and politicians, have been arrested.

Khawaja was reportedly seized from his home by masked men after being beaten unconscious on April 9.

"The trial against [Khawaja] started today but we family members were not allowed to enter the court. I don't know what charges are brought against him," said Zainab al-Khawaja, the activist's daughter.

"My father called last night. He didn't sound fine. I think he has a mouth injury because he could barely speak," she said.

"He kept saying oppression is great," said Zainab, who on Thursday stopped a week-long hunger strike to demand the release of her family members. READ MORE


Growing the War in Libya

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

20 April 11

If America and its NATO allies flew into battle over Libya to prevent a bloodbath in Benghazi, as President Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, and President Nicholas Sarkozy of France continue to claim, the big three are now escalating their war to defend "the defenseless civilians of Ajdabiya" and end the "medieval siege" of Misrata.

Their barely camouflaged declaration of intent came in a joint letter that appeared last week in the Times of London, Le Figaro and the International Herald Tribune. "Our duty and our mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians," they wrote. "It is not to remove Qaddafi [Kadhafi] by force."

But, they added, "So long as Qaddafi [Kadhafi] is in power, NATO must maintain its operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds." READ MORE


Photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros Killed in Libya

By Bryan Chan, Los Angeles Times

20 April 11

Photojournalist Tim Hetherington and Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros were killed in Misurata, Libya, on Wednesday, according to a colleague working with them.

The men were on the front lines covering fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Moammar Kadafi when an explosion occurred. The blast was believed to have been caused by a mortar round, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The news was first reported by French photographer Andre Liohn, posting on Facebook while apparently at the hospital.

Along with co-director Sebatian Junger, Hetherington won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for their documentary "Restrepo." The film chronicled a US Army platoon manning a remote outpost in Afghanistan's Korangal Valley, where several soldiers were killed.

The New York-based Hondros has covered conflicts around the globe, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Kashmir, Liberia and the West Bank since the late 1990s. In 2004, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in spot news photography for his work in Liberia, and in 2006 he won the Robert Capa Gold Medal. READ MORE


The Face of Libya's Revolution

By Ann Marlowe, The Daily Beast

20 April 11

It's not a freedom fighter atop a tank but a young bohemian woman in Benghazi reviving a carnival banned by Gaddafi and singing songs of protest. Ann Marlowe reports on an extraordinary utopian moment in the free city.

The most interesting news here in Free Libya isn't war but peace - and cultural vitality. Signs everywhere say, "We began it peacefully and we will end it peacefully," and the utopian social transformation is much more interesting than the stalemated war.

The front line was here on March 19, when Gaddafi's troops and lijan thureah, or local revolutionary committees, killed fighters defending the city. And on the 20th, they deliberately struck civilians, sometimes aiming RPGs at family cars. READ MORE


Turkey: Violent Clashes Follow Election Battle


Britain to Send Military Advisers to Libyan Rebels

By Karin Laub, Associated Press

19 April 11

Britain is sending up to 20 military advisers to help Libya's ragtag rebel force break a military stalemate with Moammar Gadhafi's army, even as NATO acknowledges that airstrikes alone cannot stop the daily shelling of the besieged opposition - held city of Misrata.

Gadhafi's troops have been pounding Misrata indiscriminately with mortars and rockets, a NATO general said Tuesday, and residents reported more explosions and firefights in Libya's third - largest city. Hospitals are overflowing and 120 patients need to be evacuated from the city that has been under siege for nearly two months, the World Health Organization said. READ MORE


Yemen Police Open Fire on Protesters, Killing 3

By Ahmed Al-Haj, Associated Press

19 April 11

Yemeni security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters Tuesday, killing at least three amid rising international concern over the strategically located nation. The United Nations Security Council met late Tuesday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Yemen, where rights groups say two months of protests calling for the president to step down have claimed 120 lives.

A Yemeni government delegation also headed to nearby Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, for talks with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council over a proposal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to transfer power to his deputy to end the crisis. The opposition held similar talks in Saudi Arabia Sunday.

The country's opposition, inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, says nothing short of Saleh's immediate departure would end the unrest. READ MORE


The Displaced Children of Libya


Migrants 'Fleeing Death' as Gadhafi's Attacks on Misrata Mount

By Shashank Bengali, McClatchy Newspapers

17 April 11

As Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces rained mortars on residential areas of the coastal city of Misrata yet again Saturday, hundreds of foreign migrants who escaped the fighting took refuge at a transit camp here, counted their blessings and worried for the thousands still left behind.

"It was like fleeing death," said Alsamowal Ahmed, a 32-year-old mechanic from Sudan who was among 1,200 foreigners - mostly migrant workers from Arab and South Asian nations - who arrived in the Libyan opposition capital of Benghazi late Friday aboard a humanitarian ship from Misrata.

The migrants described a terrifying, weeks-long siege as Gadhafi's forces try to wrest Libya's third-largest city from rebel control. READ MORE


US Groups Nurtured Arab Uprisings

By Ron Nixon, The New York Times

15 April 11

Even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti - terrorism campaigns, a small core of American government - financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states.

The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections. READ MORE


Qaddafi Forces Fire Cluster Bombs Into Civilian Areas

By C.J. Chivers, The New York Times

15 April 11

Military forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who have surrounded [Misurata] and vowed to crush its anti-Qaddafi rebellion, have been firing into residential neighborhoods with heavy weapons, including cluster bombs that have been banned by much of the world and ground-to-ground rockets, according to the accounts of witnesses and survivors and physical evidence on the ground.

Such "indiscriminate" weapons, which strike large areas with a dense succession of high-explosive munitions, by their nature cannot be fired precisely, and when fired into populated areas place civilians at grave risk.

The use of such weapons could add urgency to the arguments by Britain and France that NATO needs to step up air attacks on the Qaddafi forces, to better fulfill the United Nations mandate to protect civilians. And it could place pressure on the United States, which pulled back air power from the war when it ceded control of the campaign to NATO earlier this month. READ MORE


Middle East Protests: A Country-by-Country Look

The New York Times

The latest reports from Times correspondents along with social media updates on the protest movements shaking countries across the Middle East and northern Africa. READ MORE


Middle East Protests: Country by Country

BBC News

Following the fall of the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia, unrest has been spreading throughout the region. Could a domino effect sweep more leaders from power? READ MORE


Libya: All About Oil, or All About Banking?

By Ellen Brown, Reader Supported News

15 April 11

Several writers have noted the odd fact that the Libyan rebels took time out from their rebellion in March to create their own central bank - this before they even had a government.

Robert Wenzel wrote in the Economic Policy Journal: I have never before heard of a central bank being created in just a matter of weeks out of a popular uprising. This suggests we have a bit more than a rag tag bunch of rebels running around and that there are some pretty sophisticated influences.

Alex Newman wrote in the New American: In a statement released last week, the rebels reported on the results of a meeting held on March 19. Among other things, the supposed rag-tag revolutionaries announced the "[d]esignation of the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and appointment of a Governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi." READ MORE


Rebels Warn of 'Massacre' in Misurata

By Al Jazeera

13 April 11

Rebels have warned of an impending "massacre" by troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi if NATO does not intensify its attacks on government forces in and around Misurata, which has been besieged for weeks.

Libyan government forces launched a heavy attack against the coastal city on Thursday, with dozens of Grad rockets, killing at least 23 people, a rebel spokesman said.

Misurata, Libya's third-biggest city, is the only major rebel stronghold in the west of the country. It has been the scene of major fighting between rebels and Gaddafi's forces for several weeks.

"They fired Grads at a residential area called Kasr Ahmad near the port this morning. They fired at least 80 rockets on that area," Abdelbasset Abu Mzereiq told Reuters by telephone.

He later clarified that those killed had been civilians and not rebel fighters as earlier understood. The death toll from the 90 minute artillery barrage was likely to rise, the spokesman added.

"They keep killing civilians. Yesterday we lost five civilians in the shelling and 37 were wounded." READ MORE

NATO Seeking 'Political Solution' in Libya


Syrian Soldiers Shot for Refusing to Fire On Protesters

By Katherine Marsh, Guardian UK

13 April 11

Syrian soldiers have been shot by security forces after refusing to fire on protesters, witnesses said, as a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations intensified. Witnesses told al-Jazeera and the BBC that some soldiers had refused to shoot after the army moved into Banias in the wake of intense protests on Friday.

Human rights monitors named Mourad Hejjo, a conscript from Madaya village, as one of those shot by security snipers. "His family and town are saying he refused to shoot at his people," said Wassim Tarif, a local human rights monitor.

Footage on YouTube shows an injured soldier saying he was shot in the back by security forces, while another video shows the funeral of Muhammad Awad Qunbar, who sources said was killed for refusing to fire on protesters. Signs of defections will be worrying to Syria's regime. State media reported a different version of events, claiming nine soldiers had been killed in an ambush by an armed group in Banias. READ MORE


US-Backed Bloodshed Stains Bahrain

By Amy Goodman, Truthdig

12 April 11

Three days after Hosni Mubarak resigned as the long-standing dictator in Egypt, people in the small Gulf state of Bahrain took to the streets, marching to their version of Tahrir, Pearl Square, in the capital city of Manama. Bahrain has been ruled by the same family, the House of Khalifa, since the 1780s—more than 220 years. Bahrainis were not demanding an end to the monarchy, but for more representation in their government.

One month into the uprising, Saudi Arabia sent military and police forces over the 16-mile causeway that connects the Saudi mainland to Bahrain, an island. Since then, the protesters, the press and human-rights organizations have suffered increasingly violent repression.

One courageous young Bahraini pro-democracy activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, has seen the brutality up close. To her horror, she watched her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a prominent human-rights activist, be beaten and arrested. She described it to me from Manama:" target="_blank">READ MORE


Bahrain Opposition Figure "Dies in Custody"

By Agencies

12 April 11

A Bahraini businessman who was a member of the country's leading Shia Muslim opposition group, Wefaq, has died in police custody, sources say. There was no immediate reaction by state media to Kareem Fakhrawi's reported death and officials in the Arab Gulf kingdom were not available to comment.

Fakhrawi's was the fourth known death in police custody in recent days. Bahrain's government denies there is torture in Bahrain and says all such allegations will be investigated. Mattar Mattar, a member of Wefaq, said Fakhrawi had died in police custody a week after he never returned home from a police station where he had tried to complain about his house being demolished by police.

"Either he was sick and didn't receive treatment or was tortured," Mattar said READ MORE


Egyptian Blogger Jailed for Three Years

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

12 April 11

An Egyptian military court has jailed a blogger for three years for criticising the armed forces ruling the country since president Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February. "Regrettably, the Nasr City military court sentenced Maikel Nabil to three years in prison," Gamal Eid, Nabil''s lawyer, told the AFP news agency on Monday.

"The lawyers were not present, the verdict was handed out almost in secret," he said. Nabil was found guilty of "insulting the military" and of publishing false news. His lawyers said they would appeal the ruling.

The verdict is likely to cause concern among Egypt's large network of bloggers who had hoped the overthrow of Mubarak in a popular uprising would usher in a new era of freedom of expression. READ MORE


Gaza Death Toll Rises in Deadly Israeli Strikes

By Mai Yaghi, Agence France-Presse

09 April 11

Israeli tank fire killed a Palestinian in Gaza early on Saturday, taking to 12 the overall toll from the deadliest 24 hours since a devastating war more than two years ago. A truce declared by Palestinian armed groups in the enclave unravelled even before it could take hold as militants fired dozens of projectiles into southern Israel and the military retaliated.

Hamas put security forces and emergency services in Gaza on 24-hour alert amid the escalating violence and despite international calls for an end to hostilities. But a senior Israeli security official also said the Islamist group ruling the Gaza Strip had asked for a ceasefire.

"The political branch of Hamas has sent a message asking for an Israeli ceasefire" in exchange for a halt to Palestinian attacks, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. He said Israeli operations would continue for as long as Israel felt "its people cannot lead normal lives" because of the threat of Palestinian attack. READ MORE


Human Rights Hero Arrested in Bahrain

By Siun, Fire Dog Lake

09 April 11

We've been following the continued brutal crackdown on peaceful pro - democracy activists in Bahrain for the past two months. One of the clearest voices in the call for the most basic civil rights for all Bahrainis has been a young woman who writes on Twitter as @angryarabiya. She has been keeping the world informed of the shootings and beatings by the US supported government and about the overnight raids during which crowds of hooded "security" forces storm the homes of human rights workers and bloggers, breaking down doors, threatening their families and dragging away these peaceful activists to detention or worse.

Tonight we've learned that her father, husband and brother - in - law have been taken. There are serious fears for all three, particularly her father, one of the leading human rights activists in Bahrain, who was beaten unconscious during the raid - even though he put up no resistance to his "arrest." READ MORE


Afghanistan Secret Prisons Confirmed By U.S.

By Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press Intelligence Writer

09 April 11

KABUL, Afghanistan - "Black sites," the secret network of jails that grew up after the Sept. 11 attacks, are gone. But suspected terrorists are still being held under hazy circumstances with uncertain rights in secret, military - run jails across Afghanistan, where they can be interrogated for weeks without charge, according to U.S. officials who revealed details of the top-secret network to The Associated Press.

The Pentagon has previously denied operating secret jails in Afghanistan, although human rights groups and former detainees have described the facilities. U.S. military and other government officials confirmed that the detention centers exist but described them as temporary holding pens whose primary purpose is to gather intelligence.

The Pentagon also has said that detainees only stay in temporary detention sites for 14 days, unless they are extended under extraordinary circumstances. But U.S. officials told the AP that detainees can be held at the temporary jails for up to nine weeks, depending on the value of information they produce. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the program is classified. READ MORE


Clashes Erupt Around Cairo's Tahrir Square

By Al Jazeera

09 April 11

Egypt's ruling military council has said it would clear protesters from a central Cairo square with "firmness and force". Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, a senior military officer blamed trouble in Tahrir Square on "elements that backed the counter-revolution", a reference to people loyal to the administration of deposed President Hosni Mubarak. "Tahrir Square will be emptied of protesters with firmness and force to ensure life goes back to normal," the council's Major General Adel Emarah said.

Responding to Emarah's remarks, protester Zain Abdel Latif in Tahrir said: "If they use force we will use force. This isn't Libya, where the army can just attack us." "The military council is part and parcel of the corrupt regime. It is made up of heads of the army that have benefited from Mubarak and his 30 years of robbing the Egyptian people," said Abdullah Ahmed, 45, a protester in Tahrir.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters had retaken the iconic square hours after security forces attempted to disperse them. In the clash that ensued, at least one person was killed. READ MORE


Mr. President the Word Is War

By Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Reader Supported News

08 April 11

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement responding the Office of Legal Counsel's opinion regarding the President's authority to use military force in Libya:

In the legal memo provided by the President's Office of Legal Counsel, the Administration argues that the President had the authority to attack Libya absent Congressional authorization because he determined it was in the national interest and because the US is engaged in limited military operations that do not constitute a war. READ MORE


Four Journalists Held in Libya

By Babak Dehghanpisheh, The Daily Beast

08 April 11

Four journalists, including two Americans, were captured this week by pro-Gaddafi forces. Babak Dehghanpisheh reports they’re expected to be freed, but the battlefield is increasingly blurred and risky.

Covering the conflict in Libya seems to get dicier each day. On Tuesday afternoon, four journalists were nabbed by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi a few miles outside the oil town of Brega. The group includes two Americans: Clare Morgana Gillis, a freelancer who has done work for The Atlantic and USA Today, as well as James Foley, a freelance reporter for GlobalPost. The other two are Spanish photographer Manu Brabo and Anton Hammerl, a South African photographer. READ MORE


Protesters Killed in Syrian Town

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

08 April 11

Syrian security forces have killed at least 27 demonstrators in the southern city of Daraa, amid fresh protests against the rule of Bashar al-Assad, hospital sources and witnesses say. The deaths occurred after Friday prayers when security forces opened fire with rubber-coated bullets and live rounds to disperse stone-throwing protesters, a witness told Al Jazeera. Amateur video uploaded to social media websites purportedly showed wounded protesters being treated in the Omari mosque in Daraa.

The state-run SANA news agency had a different take on the events in the flash-point town, saying that 19 members of the security forces were killed and 75 people wounded by "armed groups" during the protests.

"According to an interior ministry source, there were 19 martyrs among the police and security forces and 75 wounded by armed groups which used live ammunition in Daraa," the agency said. READ MORE


No Apology But NATO Statement of Regret After Airstrike Hits Rebels

By Henry Chu and Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times

08 April 11

The deputy commander of NATO's operation in Libya says warplanes may have mistakenly hit rebel forces near Brega but offers no apology, though the NATO secretary-general says, 'I strongly regret' the fatalities. Meanwhile, a ship arrives in besieged Misurata bringing relief supplies. READ MORE


Egypt Protests Go On, Seeking New Beginning

By Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times

08 April 11

Banners fluttering from the rooftop of Cairo University's faculty of mass communications denounce the dean as a Mubarak-era lackey. Fistfights between the dean's student opponents and supporters erupt like summer squalls, with the din often emptying classrooms as students pour into the main lobby either to join the fray or watch.

"What is happening in this faculty is a reflection of what is happening in the society after the revolution," said Sherif Nafie, 30, a teacher's assistant in the journalism department. "There is anger, a feeling of dissatisfaction in work, with the salaries, in life."

The protests against the dean are just one reflection of the demand throughout Egypt for a new order, nearly two months after Hosni Mubarak was toppled. In government ministries, factories and especially universities, daily protests have focused on those viewed as Mr. Mubarak's surrogates. Demonstrators complain that the dreaded secret police vetted every candidate for an important job under Mr. Mubarak, and that now the country deserves a clean slate. "The people need change, real change," Mr. Nafie said. READ MORE


Libyan Rebels Hit Again by NATO Air Attack

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

07 April 11

A NATO air attack has hit a Libyan rebel position near the eastern oil town of Brega, killing at least five fighters, according to rebel fighters and a hospital worker. Thursday's attack also left at least 10 others wounded, witnesses and correspondents of the AFP news agency said.

Medical workers carried uniforms soaked in blood from one of hospital rooms. And some rebel fighters were weeping on their knees in the corridor.

It was the second time in less than a week that rebels blamed NATO for bombing their comrades by mistake. Thirteen died in an air raid not far from the same spot on Saturday. READ MORE


Bahrain's Rulers Tighten Their Grip on Battered Opposition

By Clifford Krauss, The New York Times

07 April 11

Thousands of weeping mourners filled the streets of this dusty village on Wednesday, pumping their fists and calling for the death of the royal family. The protesters did not seem intimidated by the presence of police cars and an army helicopter overhead. "We only bow to God," they chanted as they carried a coffin draped in Bahraini flags.

The funeral march was for Sayed Hameed Sayed Mahfood, a 60-year-old plumber, who was found dead in a garbage bag, 100 feet away from his car.

Doctors said that there was no sign of trauma and that it appeared that he had died of a heart attack, but no one here believed them. Only the week before, a 15-year-old boy in the village was bludgeoned to death by the police, several villagers said, for doing nothing more than running away from them. READ MORE


Journalists to Be Expelled From Libya;
Bahrain Deports 2

By Committee to Protect Journalists

06 April 11

More than 20 foreign journalists were told that they would have to leave Libya within 24 hours, National Public Radio said today. NPR reported that Libyan authorities asked journalists from different international news outlets to leave the country. The media outlets include Britain's Channel 4, CNN, Fox News, The Independent, Italian TV, ITV, Le Figaro, Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, NBC News, The New York Times, RAI, RTL, and The Sunday Times of London. The government has also decided to not issue new visas for journalists who wish to cover the unfolding conflict, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported from Tripoli.

On Tuesday, Bahrain deported two journalists working for an independent daily, continuing a weeks-long campaign of obstruction and intimidation against media. Meanwhile, attacks against journalists were also reported in Egypt, Yemen, and Lebanon. READ MORE


Yemen Protesters Hold Firm


NATO Vows to Protect Misurata Amid Criticism

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

06 April 11

NATO has vowed to protect Libya's civilian population and give priority to the besieged city of Misurata, a day after rebel fighters accused the military alliance of acting too slowly. "We have a clear mandate and we will do everything to protect the civilians of Misurata," Carmen Romero, deputy spokeswoman for NATO, said on Wednesday, adding "Misurata is our number one priority".

Oana Lungescu, NATO'S spokesperson, told Al Jazeera that the alliance was enforcing the UN mandate to protect civilians against the threat of attack. "In the last six days we've flown over 1,000 sorties and out of those over 400 were strike sorties.

"Yesterday we flew 155 sorties, today almost 200 are planned. So we are taking our mandate very seriously indeed, we've been striking tanks around Misurata and we've also been striking armoured vehicles, air defence systems, rocket launchers around Misurata, Ras Lanuf and Brega," she said. READ MORE


The Changing US Tune on Yemen

By Jeremy Scahill, Common Dreams

05 April 11

Over the weekend of April 2 - 3 in Yemen, the death toll of anti - government protesters continued to rise as security forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh reportedly shot dead twelve people and injured hundreds of others in the southern city of Taiz. Amid the violence, news broke late Sunday night that the Obama administration has quietly begun to withdraw its support for Saleh's regime. Over the past two months of violence in Yemen, the United States has continued to back Saleh despite his violent response to widespread nonviolent protests against his regime.

Citing US and Yemeni officials, the New York Times reports: "The United States, which long supported Yemen's president, even in the face of recent widespread protests, has now quietly shifted positions and has concluded that he is unlikely to bring about the required reforms and must be eased out of office." The report adds, "For Washington, the key to his departure would be arranging a transfer of power that would enable the counterterrorism operation in Yemen to continue." READ MORE


Senators Sucked Up to Qaddafi,
Now Call for His Head

By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

05 April 11

In the Senate, those demanding even harsher prosecution of the Libya war include the three amigos. John McCain, warning that "the blood of Americans is on Qaddafi's hands," has called for arming the insurgents, whom Joe Lieberman has praised as "freedom fighters." Lindsey Graham wants to know why we don't just take out the Libyan leader like Reagan tried to do: "Who would be mad at us," he pressed Pentagon chief Robert Gates yesterday, "if we dropped a bomb on Qaddafi?"

Here's the curious thing about their hawkish swagger: In August of 2009 - not even two years ago - McCain, Lieberman, Graham traveled to Tripoli to shake the bloody hand of the freedom-depriving dictator they now want to assassinate. It was the highest-level meeting of Libyan and American officials since Condi Rice's state visit in 2008. READ MORE


Clashes Escalate in Yemen;
at Least 12 Protesters Are Killed

By Laura Kasinof and J. David Goodman, The New York Times

05 April 11

Deadly violence broke out Monday across Yemen amid signs that the United States had concluded that President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a longtime ally, must be eased out of office.

Security forces and plainclothes government supporters opened fire from rooftops and the street on tens of thousands of protesters, according to witnesses, as clashes spread for a second day through the central city of Taiz. At least 10 people were killed, the official Saba news agency said; a doctor at a local hospital said 12 people had died and 50 were wounded in the gunfire.

In the western port city of Al Hudaydah, two protesters were killed Monday evening by gunfire from plainclothes government supporters during a march on the presidential palace there. Saba confirmed the deaths. The violence in Taiz, where tens of thousands have staged a sit-in for more than six weeks, was the deadliest seen there and came amid signs that the United States had concluded that President Saleh must give way. Protesters have demanded that he step down immediately. READ MORE


Why Is the Fed Bailing Out Qaddafi?

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

03 April 11

Barack Obama recently issued an executive order imposing a wave of sanctions against Libya, not only freezing Libyan assets, but barring Americans from having business dealings with Libyan banks.

So raise your hand if you knew that the United States has been extending billions of dollars in aid to Qaddafi and to the Central Bank of Libya, through a Libyan-owned subsidiary bank operating out of Bahrain. And raise your hand if you knew that, just a week or so after Obama’s executive order, the U.S. Treasury Department quietly issued an order exempting this and other Libyan-owned banks to continue operating without sanction. READ MORE


Dozens of Activists Arrested in Syrian Police Raids


Obama's Imperial War

By Paul Campos, The Daily Beast

03 April 11

Suppose President Obama announced that, in order to protect the nation while carrying out his constitutional duties as commander in chief, he was issuing an executive order restoring federal income tax rates to their Clinton - era levels. Suppose he justified this action by referring to the powers the Constitution supposedly vested in him to wage war on his own initiative

I suspect most lawyers and law professors, although perhaps not the indefatigable professor John Yoo, would consider such an argument preposterous on its face. After all, the Constitution specifically grants Congress the power to "lay and collect taxes." Only Congress has the constitutional authority to impose taxes, an authority it has exercised by enacting the Internal Revenue Code. The president's role in the matter is limited to executing that law faithfully, proposing changes to it, and vetoing proposed changes of which he disapproves. READ MORE


Libyan Rebels Fight to Control Brega

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

03 April 11

Rebel forces fought with troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for the third straight day in and around the key oil town of Brega on Sunday, as foreign air strikes continued to rain down on the government's soldiers. Hundreds of rebels retreated east of Brega under artillery fire earlier in the day before regrouping and firing back with their own rockets. Black smoke rose from the west side of the town, and some rebels suggested that better-trained fighters, possibly defected army troops, were still battling Gaddafi's soldiers inside.

Rebels had managed to advance to a walled university campus near the town's western edge where fighting has swirled since opposition troops first reached the area one month ago. But despite air strikes on Gaddafi's forces that rebels reported hearing on Saturday night, they seemed unable to move further.

"If you compare where we are today to where we were a few weeks ago, then we are in the exact same position," said Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Ajdabiya. The rebels seem able to advance only when Gaddafi's forces pull out, she said, though the opposition claims it is still trying to bring order to its nascent army. READ MORE


Why Did the Fed Bail Out the Bank of Libya?

By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

02 April 11

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today questioned why the Federal Reserve provided more than $26 billion in credit to an Arab intermediary for the Central Bank of Libya. The total includes at least $3.2 billion in loans that the Fed was forced to make public today in addition to earlier revelations under a Sanders provision in the Wall Street reform law.

Sanders also asked why the Libyan-owned bank and two of its branches in New York, NY, were exempted from sanctions that the United States this month slapped on other Libyan businesses to pressure Col. Moammar Gadhafi's government.

"It is incomprehensible to me that while creditworthy small businesses in Vermont and throughout the country could not receive affordable loans, the Federal Reserve was providing tens of billions of dollars in credit to a bank that is substantially owned by the Central Bank of Libya," Sanders said. READ MORE


Palestinians Killed in Israeli Air Strike

By Al Jazeera, Agencies

02 April 11

An Israeli air strike has killed three Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip, medical officials and the Israeli army said. Residents said the strike on Saturday targeted a car driving between the town of Khan Yunis and the Deir al-Balah refugee camp. An Israeli military spokesman said the raid, planned jointly with the Shin Bet domestic security agency, was a preemptive strike against militants planning to kidnap Israelis during the coming Jewish festival of Passover.

Hamas said the three men killed were members of its group, but officials declined comment on the allegations made against them by the Israeli military. In a statement issued later, Hamas called the strike "a crime" and vowed revenge. An Israeli air strike in the same area of Gaza on Wednesday killed an Islamic Jihad member on a motorcycle.

In a rise in violence last month, Israel carried out a series of air strikes and Palestinian armed groups fired rocket salvoes into Israel. Most of the Palestinian firing since has been attributed to Islamic Jihad. READ MORE


Nine killed and 81 Injured in Kandahar Protest Against US Burning of Qur'an

By David Batty, Guardian UK

02 April 11

Nine people have been killed and 81 injured in the Afghan city of Kandahar during a demonstration against the burning of a Qur'an by Christian extremists in the US. Violence erupted as hundreds of demonstrators marched through Kandahar a day after seven foreigners were killed when an angry mob stormed a United Nations compound in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif. Hundreds of people took part in the protest. Gunfire was heard and cars were set on fire.

In a statement, the Kandahar governor's office claims demonstrators were incited by the Taliban. Authorities say 17 people, including seven armed men, have been arrested.

But the Taliban have rejected the accusation. "The Taliban had nothing to do with this, it was a pure act of responsible Muslims," spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told Reuters. READ MORE


NATO Kills Thirteen Libya Rebels in Airstrike

By Alexander Dziadosz and Angus MacSwan, Reuters

02 April 11

A NATO-led air strike killed 13 Libyan rebels, a rebel spokesman said on Saturday, but their leaders called for continued raids on Muammar Gaddafi's forces despite the "regrettable incident."

In the rebel capital of Benghazi the anti-Gaddafi council also named a "crisis team," including the former Libyan interior minister as the armed forces chief of staff, to run parts of the country it holds in its struggle to topple Gaddafi.

The 13 fighters died on Friday night in an increasingly chaotic battle over the oil town of Brega with Gaddafi's troops, who have reversed a rebel advance on the coastal road linking their eastern stronghold with western Libya. READ MORE


Deaths in Syria As Protests Continue

By Al Jazeera and agencies

02 April 11

At least four people have been killed in another day of anti - government protests in several Syrian cities, activists have said. Protest marches against Baath Party rule broke out in cities in the north and south after Friday prayers, including in the flashpoint city of Daraa. Hundreds of people took to the streets in and around the capital, Damascus, in the afternoon as security forces and ruling party loyalists attacked protesters with batons in Rifaii mosque in the city.

Syrian forces reportedly fired tear gas at protesters in the suburb of Douma, and in the coastal cities of Latakia and Banias. Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Damascus, said at least four people were killed in the afternoon after government forces started using live fire against protesters in Douma.

"Some protesters told us they were there chanting for freedom peacefully," she said. READ MORE


Gaddafi Envoy in Britain for Secret Talks

By Peter Beaumont, Guardian UK

01 April 11

The regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has initiated a concerted effort to open lines of communication with western governments in an attempt to bring the conflict in the country to an end.

As fighting continues in Libya, the country's former prime minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi told Channel 4: "We are trying to talk to the British, the French and the Americans to stop the killing of people. We are trying to find a mutual solution."

Obeidi's indication of the increased effort to make contact with western governments came as opposition leaders in the rebels' de facto capital of Benghazi laid out their own conditions for a ceasefire.. READ MORE


Exposed: The US-Saudi Libya Deal

By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

01 April 11

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a "yes" vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya - the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973. READ MORE


Joe Klein | A New Palestinian Movement: Young, Networked, Nonviolent

By Joe Klein, Time Magazine

01 April 11

Fadi Quran is the face of the new Middle East. He is 23, a graduate of Stanford University, with a double major in physics and international relations. He is a Palestinian who has returned home to start an alternative-energy company and see what he can do to help create a Palestinian state. He identifies with neither of the two preeminent Palestinian political factions, Hamas and Fatah. His allegiance is to the Facebook multitudes who orchestrated the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and who are organizing nonviolent protests throughout the region READ MORE


Libyan Opposition Sets Conditions for Cease-Fire

By Ben Hubbard and Ryan Lucas, Associated Press

01 April 11

Libya's rebels will agree to a cease-fire if Moammar Gadhafi pulls his military forces out of cities and allows peaceful protests against his regime, an opposition leader said Friday.

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, head of the opposition's interim governing council based in Benghazi, spoke during a joint press conference with UN envoy Abdelilah Al-Khatib. Al-Khatib is visiting the rebels' de facto stronghold of Benghazi in hopes of reaching a political solution to the crisis embroiling the North African nation.

Abdul-Jalil said the rebels' condition for a cease-fire is "that the Gadhafi brigades and forces withdraw from inside and outside Libyan cities to give freedom to the Libyan people to choose and the world will see that they will choose freedom.". READ MORE


Syrian Protesters March for Freedom

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

01 April 11

Protests against Baath Party rule demanding freedoms have broken out in several Syrian cities in the north and south, including the flashpoint city of Daraa after prayers on Friday, activists have said. Hundreds of people took to the streets in and around the capital Damascus, where security forces reportedly fired tear gas at protesters in the suburb of Douma, and in the coastal cities of Latakia and Banias.

Syrian security forces and ruling Baath Party loyalists attacked protesters with batons in Rifali mosque in the capital, Damascus. Citing witnesses, Reuters said at least six protesters were arrested and dozens more beaten as they were leaving the mosque.

Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reporting from Damascus said there are unconfirmed reports of at least three protesters killed in Douma, a suburb about 20 minutes outside the capital, and that the situation there was escalating. READ MORE


Bahrain Steps Up Crackdown on Opposition

By Agencies

01 April 11

Bahrain has stepped up the arrests of Shia Muslims, including many cyber activists, with more than 300 detained and dozens missing since it launched a crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the opposition has said. Activists and politicians said on Thursday that a growing number of reform campaigners are going into hiding, after the country's most prominent blogger was arrested on Wednesday.

"The situation is critical ... Almost all the bloggers and activists who aren't in jail are now in hiding," Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said. Earlier this month, the Gulf Arab island's Sunni rulers imposed martial law and called in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, to quell the protest movement led mostly by the state's Shia majority.

The severity of the crackdown, in which public gatherings are banned and security forces have been deployed at checkpoints, stunned Bahrain's Shia Muslims and angered the region's non-Arab Shia power Iran. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states fearful of rising Iranian influence see Bahrain as a red line among the popular uprisings that have swept the region since January. READ MORE


Fears of Clashes as Yemenis Demonstrate

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

01 April 11

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, both for and against president Ali Abdullah Saleh, raising fears of a confrontation between the two sides. State television showed pictures on Friday of thousands of people on the streets near the presidential palace, waving flags and banners in support of the country's leader.

At the same time the opposition movement told Al Jazeera that they have hundreds of thousands of people, in over 15 provinces in Yemen, on the streets demanding Saleh end his 32-year long rule. "They said it was the biggest protest that they'd seen in the seven weeks or so that they have been coming out every Friday," our correspondent in Sanaa, who cannot be named for security reasons, said.

"This really is turning into a battle or competition between the opposition and president Saleh as to who can get more people out on the streets." Thousands of pro-democracy protesters have converged on Change Square in Sanaa, spilling over onto three adjoining streets, the largest turnout seen there so far. Demonstrators have set up tents and hung posters of young men who were killed in recent rallies. READ MORE


Yemen's Saleh 'Makes New Offer to Protesters'


Obama Authorized Covert Actions in Libya

By Paul Harris, Guardian UK

31 March 11

The scope of active US and British involvement with the Libyan rebels came under close scrutiny last night as it emerged that western intelligence agents were on the ground in the country and that Barack Obama had signed a secret order authorising covert help.

Obama signed an order, known as a "finding", within the last two or three weeks, Reuters reported. The move will undoubtedly fuel speculation that the US and its allies are planning to actively arm the rebels. The White House and the CIA both declined to comment on the report.

However, a US intelligence source pointed out such orders were the beginning of a process of authorisation and concrete actions – such as having agents actively supplying arms to the rebels – would need further authorisations before they can proceed.. READ MORE


Syria Moves to Scrap Emergency Law

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

31 March 11

Syria is to set up a judicial committee to study the abolition of its emergency law, in force since 1963, the state news agency said. Thursday's announcement came a day after Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, blamed "conspirators" for anti-government protests in a speech in which he was widely expected to unveil reforms demanded by protesters but simply said "staying without reforms is destructive to the country."

"Under a directive by President Bashar al-Assad, a judicial committee has been formed to prepare a study with the aim of abolishing the emergency law," read a brief report on the SANA news agency. "The committee should finish its work by April 25," it added.

Assad, who assumed power after the death of his father in 2000, is facing unprecedented domestic pressure on his rule as protests demanding political reforms and an end to emergency law enter their third week. READ MORE


Syria Tries to Ease Deep Political Crisis

By Michael Slackman, The New York Times

28 March 11

The Syrian government tried to ease a grave political crisis on Sunday by blaming armed gangs for killing 12 people in the northwestern port city of Latakia in previous days and promising to soon lift a draconian emergency law that allows the government to detain people without charges.

Despite an announcement that the president, Bashar al-Assad, would address the nation on Sunday night, he stayed out of sight, as he has during more than a week of unrest that is threatening his own 11-year presidency and more than 40 years of his family's iron-fisted rule. At least 61 people have died during crackdowns on protesters in several cities.

The capital, Damascus, was quiet throughout the day, offering a veneer of calm at a time of great uncertainty. Speculation over high-level conflicts swirled as Syrians retreated to their homes, fearful of more protests and more bloodshed. There were rumors of cracks within the insular and opaque leadership of the nation, while the government sent out competing messages of compromise and crackdowns. READ MORE


"Shoe Thrower" Targets Iraq's PM


Libyan Rebels Claim Seizing Sirte

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

28 March 11

Libyan rebels are claiming to have captured the town of Sirte, the home of embattled Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Shamsi Abdul Molah, a spokesman for the opposition's National Council, told Al Jazeera that opposition forces had moved into the city at approximately 1.30am last night (local time).

"[They say that] they found it an unarmed city. They had no problem getting in there, they did not encounter any resistance," reported Sue Turton, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Benghazi. Celebratory gunfire was head in Benghazi, the opposition's stronghold in the east of the country, as news filtered in of the taking of Gaddafi's hometown.

Al Jazeera has not been able to independently verify the report, and the Reuters news agency has quoted a witness in Sirte as saying that the city is still under government control. READ MORE


Lieberman: Syria Could Be Next Target

By James Hohmann, Politico

27 March 11

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) raised the possibility Sunday of US military involvement in Syria if President Bashar Al - Assad massacres his people. READ MORE


The Neocons Regroup on Libyan War

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

27 March 11

Yet, in rallying U.S. support for these rebellions, the neocons may be repeating the mistake they made by pushing the U.S. invasion of Iraq. They succeeded in ousting Saddam Hussein, who had long been near the top of Israel's enemies list, but the war also removed him as a bulwark against both Islamic extremists and Iranian influence in the Persian Gulf.

The neocons now are seeking a stronger U.S. military intervention in Libya to oust Col. Muammar Gaddafi (another old Israeli nemesis) and urging more support for protesters in Syria to overthrow the Assad dynasty (regarded as a frontline enemy of Israel).

However, by embracing these uprisings, the neocons are risking unintended consequences, including further Islamic radicalization of the region and deepening anti - Americanism. Indeed, a rebel victory over Gaddafi could put extremists from an al - Qaeda affiliate in a powerful position inside Libya. READ MORE


Syrian Regime 'to Lift Emergency Law'

By Al Jazeera

27 March 11

A Syrian government adviser has confirmed to Al Jazeera that the country's emergency law is to be lifted. Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, told Al Jazeera's Cal Perry that the law would "absolutely" be lifted, but failed to give a timetable.

The repeal of the emergency law, in place since the 1963 coup that brought the Baath Party to power, has been a key demand of protesters who have taken to the streets in recent days to demand greater political freedoms. READ MORE


Bahrain Opposition Accepts Kuwait Mediation

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

27 March 11

Bahrain's main Shia opposition group, Wefaq, is considering Kuwait's offer to mediate in talks with the Sunni al-Khalifa family-run government to end a political crisis gripping the Gulf Island kingdom, a Wefaq member has said. Jasim Husain said on Sunday Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah had offered to mediate between the al-Khalifa ruling family and Shia opposition groups.

"We welcome the idea of bringing in an outside element," Husain told the Reuters news agency. He said that Wefaq had no conditions for entering mediation talks but the presence of foreign troops in Bahrain would be a thorny matter in the discussions. READ MORE


Violent Protests Spread in Syria


Kucinich: NATO War Still a Bad Deal

By Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Reader Supported News

26 March 11

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today wrote to fellow members of Congress that NATO's role in the war in Libya would not shield Americans from the costs of the war. Kucinich's letter responded to the announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that NATO would take over command of the no - fly zone in Libya. In his letter, Kucinich pointed to United States' dominant role in the funding of NATO and called for Members to support his amendment which would eliminate US funds for the military intervention in Libya.

Last night, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton announced that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has agreed to take over responsibility for the military intervention taking place in Libya. The announcement does little to change the realities of the situation. READ MORE


NATO Air Strike Kills Men, Women and Children in Afghanistan

By Solomon Moore, Associated Press

26 March 11

KABUL, Afghanistan – A provincial governor in Afghanistan's dangerous south said Saturday that seven civilians were accidentally killed when a NATO helicopter fired on two vehicles believed to be carrying Taliban fighters.

Civilian casualties have long been a source of friction between the U.S.-led international force and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has bluntly told the coalition that they must end. A recent U.N. report said at least 2,777 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year, with about three - quarters of the deaths blamed on the insurgency. READ MORE


Libyan Rebels Advance On Brega

By Al Jazeera and agencies

26 March 11

Libyan rebels are advancing westwards after recapturing the strategic eastern town of Ajdabiya from government controls with the help of coalition air strikes.

Reports late on Saturday suggested rebels had already pressed onto the key oil-port town of Brega, 80 kilometres to the west.

"We are in the centre of Brega," Abdelsalam al-Maadani, a rebel fighter, told the AFP news agency by telephone. But Reuters said rebels were only on the outskirts of Brega. READ MORE


WikiLeaks Cable Shows US at Odds With ElBaradei

By George Jahn, Associated Press

26 March 11

VIENNA – Washington's differences with Mohamed ElBaradei over his Middle East views and his handling of nuclear investigations in Iran and Syria persisted into the last months of his tenure as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released Friday on the WikiLeaks website.

The cable, written Jan. 13, 2009, indicates that tensions continued after the U.S. government formally gave up its efforts to unseat ElBaradei. READ MORE


Syrian Forces Open Fire on Protesters, Killing at Least 20

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

25 March 11

Syrian security forces have opened fire on anti - government protesters in the city of Sanamin near Daraa, killing at least 20 people, according to one witness.

"There are more than 20 martyrs .... they [security forces] opened fire haphazardly," the witness told Al Jazeera on Friday. READ MORE


Thousands in Yemen March Against Saleh

By Al Jazeera

25 March 11

Tens of thousands of protesters are on the streets of Sanaa, Yemen's capital, to call for an end to Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule, as the embattled president said he would only hand over power "to capable, responsible hands."

Addressing a large rally of his own supporters in a speech carried on state TV earlier on Friday, Saleh said he was ready to meet with protesters, but warned that those demanding his resignation had been influenced by the Houthis - an armed Shia Zaidi group demanding autonomy in the country's north - and "drug dealers."

Saleh was president of North Yemen until its 1990 unification with the south - and has ruled the country since. READ MORE


NATO to Take Over Enforcing of Libyan
No-Fly Zone

By Paul Richter, David S. Cloud and Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times

25 March 11

The Obama administration will transfer the lead role in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but the deal exposed sharp divisions in NATO and means US warplanes will continue flying combat missions against Libyan ground forces, officials said.

US and NATO officials said the Brussels-based alliance had agreed to take command of the no-fly zone in coming days to prevent Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi's air force from attacking rebels who have been battling his government for five weeks.

But after four days of wrangling, NATO ambassadors could not agree on whether to also put the alliance in charge of airstrikes targeting Kadafi's tanks and other ground forces to prevent them from seizing cities held by rebel forces. Warplanes from the US and coalition allies, including France and Britain, will continue those attacks. READ MORE


Keith Olbermann | Special Comment:
Libya, Obama and the Five-Second Rule

(image: FOK News Channel)


African Union Invites Libya Government, Opposition to Talks

By Reuters

23 March 11

The African Union has invited representatives of Muammar Gaddafi's government, the Libyan opposition and others to talks in Addis Ababa this Friday, the union's chairman Jean Ping said. Ping told reporters that Gaddafi wanted to send his prime minister and that officials from the European Union, United Nations Security Council, and neighboring Arab countries had also been invited to Ethiopia to discuss the Libyan crisis.

"We are convening a meeting tomorrow in Addis Ababa with the participation of both sides," he said. READ MORE


NATO Poised to Take Command of Libya Operation

By Ryan Lucas and Hadeel Al-Shalchi, Associated Press

23 March 11

Fighter jets hit aircraft and a crossroads military base deep inside Libya on Thursday, and NATO appeared poised to assume command of the international operation that is working to thwart Moammar Gadhafi's forces by land, sea and air. A senior Pentagon official said the US would likely continue flying combat missions.

France, meanwhile, set a timeframe on the international action at days or weeks - not months.

The possibility of a looming deadline raised pressure on rebel forces. So did the arms embargo, which keeps both Gadhafi and his outgunned opposition from getting more weapons. The rebels were so strapped Thursday that they handed out sneakers - and not guns - at one of their checkpoints. READ MORE


Protest Camp Set Up in Jordan Capital

By Al Jazeera

23 March 11

Hundreds of Jordanians have set up a protest camp in a main square in the capital to press demands for the ouster of the prime minister and wider public freedoms.

The 500 protesters appeared to be mostly university students or unemployed graduates unaffiliated with any political party.

Many said they met through Facebook last month to launch a group called the Jordanian Youth Movement.

Ziad al-Khawaldeh, the group's spokesman, said protesters would remain outdoors until Marouf al-Bakhit, the prime minister departs.

Other demands include dissolving what is widely seen as a docile parliament, dismantling the largely feared intelligence department and giving greater powers to the people. READ MORE


French Jet Destroys Libyan Plane

By Al Jazeera

23 March 11

A French fighter jet has attacked and destroyed a Libyan military plane shortly after it landed at Misurate air force base, a French armed forces spokesman said.

The French warplane fired an air-to-ground missile at the Libyan jet after it breached the UN-imposed no-fly zone over Libya on Thursday.

The AP news agency cited an official earlier on Thursday as saying the Libyan plane may have been landing when it was attacked by a French Rafael fighter jet.

It comes as coalition forces continue to attack targets in the North African country in a bid to protect civilians from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the country's leader.

In a separate development, French fighter jets also struck an air base deep inside Libya, while NATO ships patrolled the coast to block arms and mercenaries entering the country. Coalition bombers also struck artillery, arms depots and parked helicopters on Thursday. However the coalition bombardment has failed to stop Gaddafi's forces from shelling opposition held towns. READ MORE


Arab Women Step Forward

By The Toronto Star, Staff

23 March 11

The photograph had to make you smile. An Egyptian woman, head covered by black hijab, displayed a happiness that crinkled her whole face as she held up her thumb, stained with purple ink. She had just voted in a referendum allowing changes to the country's constitution.

The protests that have swept Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya have brought Arab women out in numbers. No longer are they relegated to the sidelines. In Cairo, Rihab Assad, a 40-year old office manager, was astonished when she saw another woman with a megaphone shouting out chants to a largely male crowd, who echoed her calls. "To me," said Assad, "this was something entirely new."

Leil Zahra Mortada blogged about the events in Tahrir Square, braving possible arrest amid president Hosni Mubarak's crackdown on Egypt's Internet communications. Twenty-six-year old Asmaa Mahfouz became a leader of Egypt's youth protest movement by using Twitter and Facebook: "I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square, and I will stand alone. And I'll hold up a banner." READ MORE


Libyan Rebel Blogger Killed by Sniper

By euronews

23 March 11

Mohamed Nabous, of Libya Al Hurra TV, has been shot and killed by Colonel Gaddafi's loyalist forces in Benghazi.

He was fatally wounded in the head by a sniper bullet on saturday morning while filming the fighting between government forces and the rebels. He died of his wounds in the afternoon.

Earlier this month the former telecoms engineer spoke to euronews after first coming to world attention on 19th February 2011 when he and a small team of activists set up a live stream from Benghazi. READ MORE


Yemen Parliament Gives President
Emergency Powers

By Ahmed Al-Haj, Associated Press

23 March 11

Yemen's parliament enacted sweeping emergency laws Wednesday after the country's embattled president asked for new powers of arrest, detention and censorship to quash a popular uprising demanding his ouster.

The move escalates the showdown between Ali Abdullah Saleh and the movement that has unified military commanders, religious leaders and protesting youth in demands for his immediate departure.

The state of emergency suspends the constitution, allows media censorship, bars street protests and gives security forces 30 days of far-reaching powers to arrest and detain suspects without judicial process. READ MORE


Syrian Forces 'Shoot at Protesters' in Deraa


Marines Face Questions About Rescue of Airmen in Libya

By Elisabeth Bumiller, The New Yoprk Times

23 March 11

An American pilot and a weapons officer were safely rescued in Libya on Tuesday after their warplane crashed near Benghazi, but the United States Marine Corps dropped two 500-pound bombs during the recovery and faced questions about whether Marines had fired on villagers.

In an episode that reflected the unpredictability of an air campaign designed to keep American troops off the ground, the United States military said that an equipment malfunction rather than enemy fire brought down the plane. A Marine Corps officer in the Mediterranean strongly denied that any shots were fired at civilians during the rescue, but Marine Corps officers at the Pentagon said they did not know what happened or whether any civilians were killed or injured when the bombs exploded. READ MORE


'Proud' Tunisians Aid Libya Refugees:
Photo Gallery

By Gail Simmons, Al Jazeera

23 March 11

Khiary explained how people from all over Tunisia, even the poorest, were donating aid and volunteering to help the refugees. His own tour company, Tunisie Voyages, had lent the islanders a coach. "Fifty volunteers went to the border, to clean the camp," he told me. "This is what was missing for many decades. Before, this sort of effort would have been used politically. Now the people are doing it for their country." READ MORE


US Bombs Libya, Helps ... Jihadists?!

By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

22 March 11

America is now at war to protect a Libyan province that's been an epicenter of anti-American jihad.

In recent years, at mosques throughout eastern Libya, radical imams have been "urging worshippers to support jihad in Iraq and elsewhere," according to WikiLeaked cables. More troubling: The city of Derna, east of Benghazi, was a "wellspring" of suicide bombers that targeted US troops in Iraq. READ MORE


Day One: Obama Drops 100 Million Dollars on Libya

By Robert Greenwald, Reader Supported News

22 March 11

President Obama's decision to participate in the strikes in Libya has already cost U.S. taxpayers "well over $100 million," according to the National Journal. The Journal also relayed that, "the initial stages of taking out Libya's air defenses could ultimately cost ... coalition forces between $400 million and $800 million." The administration launched this new war (and yes, it is a war) with no official congressional authorization, little public debate and with a vague, possibly even non - existent, endgame in mind. It's as if the lessons of the last decade are completely lost on policymakers in the United States.

Congress and the president should be ending the wars we were already in, not starting new ones in new Arab countries where even the hint of civilian casualties could quickly set fire to a bonfire of anti-US sentiment. For example: READ MORE


Liberal Democrats in Uproar Over Libya Action

By John Bresnahan and Jonathon Allen, Politico

22 March 11

A hard - core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.

Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) "all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president's actions" during that call, said two Democratic lawmakers who took part.

Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq - only to be blocked by his own leadership - asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren't impeachable offenses. READ MORE


Yemeni President Says He'll Quit by Year-End

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

22 March 11

Yemen's president has offered to step down from his post by the end of the year, a presidential spokesman has said. Ahmed al-Sufi told the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday that Ali Abdullah Saleh told military leaders and government officials about his decision on Monday night. Saleh pledged a "constitutional" transfer of power, and also said he would not hand over power to the military.

It is unclear whether Yemen's opposition would accept the offer. A similar proposal was the subject of discussions between Saleh and opposition groups earlier this month. Saleh has already promised not to run for another term when his current term expires in 2013.

Saleh has a history of breaking similar promises: In 2005, he vowed not to run for another term in office, only to run and win another term in 2006. READ MORE


Libyan Front Line Stalls Outside Ajdabiya


Syrian Governor Fired After 7 Protesters Killed

By Bassem Mroue, Associated Press

22 March 11

A Syrian official says the governor of a southern province where a deadly government crackdown killed seven protesters has been sacked. The official says Faisal Kalthoum was fired from his position in Daraa on Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Protests inspired by uprisings across the across the Arab world have erupted in parts of Syria, but authorities quickly suppressed them. Three consecutive days of protests in Daraa started Friday and turned violent as security forces fired on protesters. The state order to remove Kalthoum, in post since 2006, could help ease tension in Daraa as residents accused him of being corrupt. READ MORE


Obama v. Obama

By Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Reader Supported News

21 March 11

US military action against Libya absent imminent threat or Congressional approval is outside the legal scope of the Presidency.

Senator Barack Obama, December 20, 2007: "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." READ MORE


When Presidents Attack!

By JP Sottile, Reader Supported News

21 March 11

Let the Birthers be silenced, let those who question the veracity of Obama's patriotism be damned. And put to rest any doubt about his commitment to the nation's ideals.

By dropping bombs on an oil - producing country, he's kept alive a rich White House tradition of using military force to assist oil companies, to enrich the military - industrial complex and to buoy the chief executive's image as a forceful decision - maker.

Obama is now officially an American President. READ MORE


Tanks Deploy in Yemen Capital as Generals Defect

By Hammoud Mounassar, Agence France-Presse

21 March 11

Tanks were deployed in Yemen's capital on Monday as a dangerous split opened in the military leadership after top generals joined the revolt against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime.

As some of his closest military and tribal allies abandoned him, Saleh refused to submit to calls for his resignation and claimed he had the support of the vast majority of people in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

"We're still here ... the great majority of the Yemeni people are with security, stability and constitutional law," he said. READ MORE


Today's Networked Activists Can Achieve
Real Change

By Paul Hilder, Guardian UK

21 March 11

Were the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia simply a consequence of the internet and its mysterious powers? Or was New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell right to argue, in a widely read piece, that today's networked activists are trivial and ineffective by comparison with the courageous sit-in organisers of the civil rights movement?

As someone who has spent much of the last decade harnessing the internet to organise networks and movements for change, I find myself taking these questions personally. But they also miss everything that is really interesting about the ferment of social change today.

What is really going on is much richer and more interesting. It has seismic implications for the organising models of NGOs and political parties – and even corporations and governments. It heralds both danger and promise for the future of global justice and human development. READ MORE


Syria Deploys Troops After Protests

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

21 March 11

Syrian troops have been deployed in the southern city of Daraa a day after an anti-government protester was killed when forces reportedly fired on a demonstration. News agencies, citing residents, said that thousands of Syrians marched on Monday in the town following the funeral of Raed Akrad.

A resident told the AFP news agency that a "mass of demonstrators started to march from the cemetery towards al-Omari mosque after the burial." Demonstrators chanted "Just God, Syria and Freedom," and "Revolution, revolution" according to the resident. Another witness said security forces had been deployed to block protests, but people had gathered regardless.

Later in the day, Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Daraa, said the situation was still "very tense but quiet." "There are a lot of security, the army as well as police, there are a lot of checkpoints. But we didn't see any protests, people told us there was a funeral this morning but it ended with no clashes," she said. READ MORE


Afghan Police Set to Take Over Security


Missile Damages Kadafi's Compound

By Borzou Daragahi and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times

21 March 11

The second day of the Western military campaign against Moammar Kadafi saw an escalation of attacks, with bombing raids against ground forces loyal to the Libyan leader - and an escalation of questions on the strikes' objective and the extent of the US role.

As US officials said that Kadafi was not being targeted in a campaign that has seen his air defenses blasted by cruise missiles, a structure in his massive compound in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, was hit in a missile strike late Sunday.

With antiaircraft fire lighting up the sky, journalists were led to a bus after midnight and driven to the Bab Azizia compound, whose barracks - style buildings, barbed wire and hundreds of young militiamen brandishing semiautomatic weapons give it the look of a Tripoli "Green Zone." READ MORE


Yemen's Saleh Faces Revolt From Within After Generals Defect

Al Jazeera

21 March 11

Several top Yemeni army commanders have declared their support for anti-government protesters seeking the resignation of the country's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Major General Ali Mohsen Saleh, the head of the north western military zone and the head of the first armoured division, said on Monday that he had deployed army units to protect the protesters. Several other commanders, Brigadier Hameed Al Koshebi, head of brigade 310 in Omran area, Brigadier Mohammed Ali Mohsen, head of the eastern division, Brigadier Nasser Eljahori, head of brigade 121, and General Ali Abdullaha Aliewa, adviser of the Yemeni supreme leader of the army, rallied behind Major General Saleh and defected. READ MORE


Libya Releases 4 New York Times Journalists

The New York Times

21 March 11

The Libyan government released four detained New York Times journalists Monday, six days after they were captured while covering the conflict between government and rebel forces in the eastern city of Ajdabiya. They were released into the custody of Turkish diplomats. READ MORE


Egyptians Vote 'Yes' for Constitutional Change


Libya Frees 4 Journalists, 4 Still Held, 3 Missing, 1 Dead

By Reuters

20 March 11

Three journalists, including two working for Agence France - Presse, have gone missing while covering the fighting in Libya, the news agency said on Sunday.

In a statement AFP said Dave Clark, a reporter based at its Paris headquarters, and Roberto Schmidt, a photographer in its Nairobi bureau, had not been heard from since they sent an email to senior editors on Friday evening.

Clark, 38, and Schmidt, 45, said in the email they planned to travel to an area about 19 miles outside of the eastern oil - rich city of Tobruk on Saturday to meet opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and to speak to refugees fleeing the fighting, AFP said. READ MORE


Bahraini Medics Recount Hospital Horror


Remains of Gaddafi's Force Smolders Near Benghazi

By Mohammed Abbas, Reuters

20 March 11

Muammar Gaddafi's wrecked tanks and other army vehicles smoldered on a strategic road in east Libya on Sunday after Western powers launched air strikes that galvanized embattled rebels.

Rebels who had been driven back to their stronghold of Benghazi by the Libyan leader's air, sea and land offensive in the past two weeks were returning in 4x4 pick-ups to the town of Ajdabiyah, the hard fought over gateway to east Libya.

The road the rebels drove was a scene of devastation. This correspondent counted at least 16 corpses, though the scale of the bombardment made identifying bodies difficult. READ MORE


Gaddafi Condemns Attack on His Forces


Yemen's UN Envoy Resigns Over Deaths of Protesters

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

20 March 11

Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations has resigned over the killing of 52 protesters calling for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. "Abdullah Alsaidi has submitted his resignation to protest at the use of violence against demonstrators," a Yemeni foreign ministry official said on Sunday.

The move comes as Yemen's most powerful tribal confederation called on Saleh to step down. Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, the leader of Hashed, which includes Saleh's tribe, issued a statement asking the president to respond to the people's demands and leave peacefully. It was co-signed by several religious leaders.

Thousands were joining Sunday's burial procession of some of the 52 protesters killed on Friday, the bloodiest single day of the month-long uprising. Around 30 bodies were laid out in neat rows and the square near Sanaa University overflowed with mourners, who massed under tight security and despite a two-day-old state of emergency. READ MORE


Libya and the Dilemma of Intervention

By The Nation | Editorial

19 March 11

As the democratic awakening sweeps across the Arab world, the Obama administration is struggling to find the right balance between short-term crisis management and the longer - term need for a new approach that breaks with Washington's dark history of military intervention and support for autocratic regimes. After some initial missteps, the administration was able to strike, more or less, the right balance in the case of Egypt, using its ties with the Egyptian military to help nudge Hosni Mubarak from power without distracting from the historic display of people power in Tahrir Square.

The latest challenge comes from the deteriorating situation in Libya, where the rapid advance of forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi threatened the defeat of rebel forces. Our natural tendency is to want to help end Qaddafi's despotic rule and to save the lives of those bravely resisting his onslaught. But it is a difficult challenge to take action that has a reasonable chance of success but that does not arouse popular - and well - founded - suspicions of neoimperial intervention. The catastrophic invasion of Iraq hangs heavy in the Arab world, and Washington's role in the Middle East is still deeply compromised, with US military aid to repressive regimes like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia now being used to crush peaceful protest and demands for democracy.  READ MORE


US Missiles Strike Libyan Air Defense Targets

By Steven Erlanger and David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

19 March 11

American and European forces began a broad campaign of strikes against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Saturday, unleashing warplanes and missiles in the first round of the largest international military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon and NATO officials detailed a mission designed to impose a United Nations - sanctioned no - fly zone and keep Mr. Qaddafi from using airpower against beleaguered rebel forces in the east. While the overall effort was portrayed as mostly being led by France and Britain, the Pentagon said that American forces dominated an effort to knock out Libya's air - defense systems. READ MORE


Gaza Militants Fire Dozens of Mortars Into Israel

By BBC News

19 March 11

About 50 mortars were fired - two Israelis were hurt, Israel says.

Israeli tanks later shelled targets in the coastal strip, wounding at least five people, Palestinian officials say.

The Islamist group Hamas, which runs Gaza, said it fired some of the mortars. Three days ago an Israeli air strike killed two of its member. READ MORE


Euphoric, Egyptians Vote on Future

By Neil MacFarquhar, Michael Slackman, The New York Times

19 March 11

Elated that for the first time in their lives every ballot mattered, Egyptians flocked to the polls in record numbers on Saturday to vote in a referendum on a package of constitutional amendments that will shape the country's political future after Hosni Mubarak's overthrow.

From this provincial capital in the Nile Delta, across the sprawling capital of Cairo and beyond, voters were already waiting when the polls opened at 8 a.m., and the lines grew throughout the day, sometimes stretching until the wait exceeded three hours.

Gone was the heavy security presence of the Mubarak years, with only a few police officers and soldiers lingering around the crowded entrances but mostly standing apart from the proceedings. READ MORE


Pakistan: Calls for Revenge After
US Drones Kill 40

By BBC News

19 March 11

Tribal leaders in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan have vowed revenge against the US after drones killed more than 40 people near the Afghan border. "We are a people who wait 100 years to exact revenge. We never forgive our enemy," the elders said in a statement.

Thursday's attack has caused fury - most of the dead were tribal elders and police attending an open-air meeting. Observers say anger over the botched drone raid may help Pakistan delay an assault on the Taliban in Waziristan.

The Pakistani military has so far resisted US pressure for such an assault. It is already fighting militants in a number of other parts of the country's north-west. READ MORE


Officials: US Not Involved In Initial Libya Action

By Robert Burns, AP National Security Writer

19 March 11

Two US officials say American ships and aircraft are poised for military action against Libya, but they aren't participating in the initial French air missions over the North African nation. One US official says the Navy is planning a sea-launched missile attack from the Mediterranean against elements of Libya's coastal air defenses.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of military operations. READ MORE


Deep Divisions Over Egypt's Referendum

By Gregg Carlstrom, Al Jazerra

19 March 11

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces battled insurgents on the outskirts of the rebel-held city of Benghazi on Saturday, defying world demands for an immediate ceasefire and forcing rebels to retreat.

Egyptians will go to the polls on Saturday to vote on a package of constitutional amendments which, in some ways, mirrors the longtime demands of the Egyptian opposition. The changes would make it easier for independent candidates to run for office. They would bar the president from transferring "terrorism suspects" to emergency courts, a common practice in Mubarak-era Egypt, and re-establish judicial oversight over Egypt's fraud-riddled elections.

Yet most of Egypt's formal opposition is urging people to reject the amendments. READ MORE


Military Preventing Medics From Accessing Bahrain's Largest Hospital

By Mark Colvin, PM, ABC Radio

19 March 11

MARK COLVIN: Armed forces have also formed a ring around the country's main hospital, Salmaniya Medical Complex. They have a ring of tanks around it, and no-one can get in or out.

Nedhal Khalifa is a doctor at the hospital. Unable to get to work, she spoke to me from her home.

NEDHAL KHALIFA: It is at the heart of Manama which is the capital city of Bahrain and in the last few weeks it's become a symbol of the uprising in Bahrain and it is located in the heart of the financial district.

MARK COLVIN: When people have been attacked there before, what's happened to them when they've tried to get to the hospital?

NEDHAL KHALIFA: The paramedics in the hospital have shown great sympathy to the people so they were immediately there to pick up the injured and bring them back to the hospital.
Unfortunately they themselves, the paramedics, have been injured themselves on a few occasions and they've raised this issue to the authorities and to the International Red Cross.
Now today we've heard that the ambulance cars have left the hospital but they haven't come back yet and we're not sure whether they'll be able to come back to the main hospital, which is Salmaniya Medical Complex or will they be directed to the military hospital?

MARK COLVIN: Deliberately preventing people who are wounded from getting into a hospital sounds precariously close to a war crime to me. LISTEN TO THE STORY or READ MORE


Yemen Declares State of Emergency

By Al Jazeera and agencies

19 March 11

Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, has declared a nationwide state of emergency, after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests killed at least 41 people, and left scores more wounded, in the capital Sanaa. Saleh said on Friday that the decision to impose the state of emergency was made by the country's national security council, but there was no immediate indication of how long it would last.

"The national security council announces a state of emergency across Yemen, and a curfew is set upon armed people in all Yemeni provinces. And the security forces with the army will take responsibility for stability," he said. He also expressed "sorrow for what happened today in university square".

The Reuters news agency reported Saleh as saying that it was clear that there were "armed elements" amongst anti-government protesters, and that the clashes earlier in the day were between citizens and protesters, not protesters and security forces.

At least 41 people were killed and scores wounded after the Yemeni security forces opened fire on protesters at University square, in the capital Sanaa. READ MORE


Gaddafi Defies West and Pushes Into Benghazi

By Mohammed Abbas, Reuters

19 March 11

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces battled insurgents on the outskirts of the rebel-held city of Benghazi on Saturday, defying world demands for an immediate ceasefire and forcing rebels to retreat.

The advance by Gaddafi's troops into Libya's second city of 670,000 people appeared to be an attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention which diplomats say will come after an international meeting currently underway in Paris.

A Libyan rebel spokesman said Gaddafi's forces had entered Benghazi while a Reuters witness saw a jet circling over the city shot down and at least one separate explosion near the rebel movement's headquarters in the city. READ MORE


Gaddafi Forces Try to Storm Benghazi

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

19 March 11

Reports from Libya say pro-government forces have entered the western outskirts of the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, with the city also coming under attack from the coast and the south. Witnesses in Bengazi, in the east of the country, said they heard large explosions on Saturday. Al Jazeera's correspondents reporting from the city told of multiple explosions, plumes of smoke in the sky and a fighter jet belonging to the rebels getting shot down.

Government troops reportedly bombed the southern Benghazi suburb of Goreshi among other places. Artillery and mortars were also fired in the centre of the city. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the rebel National Libyan Council, told Al Jazeera "there is a bombardment by artillery and rockets on all districts of Benghazi."

Urging swift action in Libya, he said: "We appeal to the international community, to all the free world, to stop this tyranny from exterminating civilians." Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley, reporting from Benghazi, said: There's a lot of jittery people here at the moment, there is a lot of activity and a lot of firing going on." READ MORE


Benghazi Under Attack


Yemen Opposition Activists Clash With Police

By Al Jazeera English

19 March 11

Police have stormed a protest camp in southern Yemen where thousands are calling for the ouster of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country's longtime president. Saturday's raid was the latest attempt by security forces to quell growing unrest.

Protesters say police fired tear gas and live rounds in the southern port city of Aden, wounding three anti-government protesters. Saleh declared on Friday a nationwide state of emergency after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests left at least 52 people dead and scores more wounded in the capital, Sanaa.

He said that the decision to impose the state of emergency was made by the country's National Security Council, but there was no immediate indication of how long it would last. READ MORE


Egyptians Vote in First Test of Shift to Democracy

By Maggie Michael and Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press

19 March 11

Eager for their first taste of a free vote in decades, Egyptians lined up by the hundreds Saturday to vote on constitutional amendments sponsored by the ruling military that critics fear could propel the country's largest Islamist group to become Egypt's most dominant political force.

The nationwide referendum is the first major test of the country's transition to democracy after a popular uprising forced longtime leader Hosni Mubarak to step down five weeks ago, handing the reins of power to the military....


The vote promises to be the freest in Egypt since the 1952 ouster of the monarchy and the end of a multiparty democracy that functioned under British colonial rule. Egypt has since been ruled by men of military background, with fraud and extremely low turnout defining every nationwide vote. READ MORE



Obama Warns Libya on Allied Action, Rules Out US Ground Troops

By Elisabeth Bumiller, David D. Kirkpatrick and Alan Cowell, The New York Times

18 March 11

President Obama ordered Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Friday to implement a cease-fire immediately and stop all attacks on Libyan civilians or face military action from the United States and its allies in Europe and the Arab world.

In one of the most forceful statements he has issued from the White House Mr. Obama said that his demands were not negotiable: Colonel Qaddafi had to pull his forces back from major cities in Libya or the United States and its allies would stop him. The president said that he was forced to act because Colonel Qaddafi had turned on his own people and had shown, Mr. Obama said, "no mercy on his own citizens."

The Libyan government announced a cease-fire on Friday, hours after the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution authorizing military action against Colonel Qadaffi to protect Libyan civilians. But spokesmen for the rebels trying to oust Colonel Qadaffi said attacks continued in several locations on Friday. READ MORE


Libya: All Necessary Measures?

By Philip Gourevitch, The New Yorker

18 March 11

So we are joining the civil war in Libya. We and our European allies will fly against Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s forces to stop them from overrunning the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Will we then keep flying to roll them back to Tripoli, and roll him out of power? The United Nations Security Council has authorized the use of “all necessary measures” to protect Libyans from their leader. Anything is possible, for better, and for worse.

Even as we gird for action in Libya, the government of Bahrain (not to mention Yemen), our ally and client, has unleashed its security forces, in league with those of our ally and sometime client Saudi Arabia, to murder and in every way crush the nonviolent opposition arrayed against its unjust rule. The “Arab Spring” is starting to feel like it could be our fall.

Read more READ MORE


Revealed: Afghan Chief Accused of Campaign of Terror Is on US Payroll

By Julius Cavendish, The UK Independent

18 March 11

An Afghan warlord backed by US special forces faces persistent allegations that he launched a two-year spate of violence involving burglary, rape and murder of civilians, desecration of mosques and mutilation of corpses. Yet, despite repeated warnings about the atrocities Commander Azizullah is alleged to have committed, he has remained on the payroll of the US military as an "Afghan security guard", a select band of mercenaries described by some as "the most effective fighting formation in Afghanistan."

Interviews with religious leaders, tribal elders, villagers, contractors and Western and Afghan officials all pointed to a reign of terror in which they believe 31-year-old Azizullah, a ethnic Tajik, targeted Pashtun civilians while fighting the Taliban. Although individual allegations, all from ethnic Pashtuns, might be inaccurate, malicious or motivated by envy of Azizullah's close and lucrative links to US special forces, taken together they come from sources belonging to a range of tribes and from several areas. The testimony also tallied with several independent reports documenting the allegations against Azizullah and seen by The Independent, including two confidential reports compiled by UN officials and circulated to NATO personnel last year. READ MORE


Libya Says It Will Release Times Journalists

By David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

18 March 11

Four New York Times journalists missing in Libya since Tuesday were captured by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and will be released Friday, his son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, told Christiane Amanpour in an ABC News interview.

Like many Western journalists, the four had entered the rebel-controlled eastern region of Libya without visas over the Egyptian border to cover the insurrection against Colonel Qaddafi.

"They entered the country illegally and when the army, when they liberated the city of Ajdabiya from the terrorists and they found her, they arrest her because you know, foreigners in this place," Mr. Qaddafi said, according to the transcript of the interview. "But then they were happy because they found out she is American, not European. And thanks to that, she will be free tomorrow." Mr. Qaddafi was apparently referring to Lynsey Addario, an experienced war photographer, but Libyan government officials told the United States State Department on Thursday evening that all four would be released. READ MORE


UN Authorizes Military Action Against Kadafi

By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times

18 March 11

US and allied forces prepared to conduct military operations against Libya after the United Nations Security Council authorized international action to prevent Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi from using indiscriminate slaughter to quell a monthlong revolt.

With the outgunned rebels in retreat, the council on Thursday authorized "all necessary measures" to protect civilians, giving its blessing to attacks on Libyan aircraft and ground forces now encircling the final opposition stronghold of Benghazi. READ MORE


Libya Announces Cease-Fire After UN Vote

By Al Jazeera English

18 March 11

Libya has announced it will halt all military operations in the country following a decision by the United Nations Security Council to back a no-fly zone over the country. Mussa Kussa, the Libyan foreign secretary, said his government was interested in protecting all civilians and foreigners in a statement televised on Friday.

"We decided on an immediate ceasefire and on an immediate stop to all military operations," he said, adding "[Libya] takes great interest in protecting civilians." Kussa said because his country was a member of the United Nations it is "obliged to accept to UN Security Council's resolutions." READ MORE


Police Fire on Yemen Protesters, Killing 31

By Ahmed Al-Haj, Associated Press

18 March 11

Yemeni doctors say at least 31 people have been killed by security forces who opened fire on an anti-government demonstration in the Yemeni capital and that dozens have been wounded.

The death toll is among the highest in the month of violence that has shaken Yemen with protesters demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down. Government forces and pro-government thugs have used live fire in an increasingly deadly crackdown.

Police started shooting at the protesters rallying outside the Sanaa University from rooftops and nearby houses as demonstrators filled the square after Friday prayers. READ MORE


Former Prisoners Plan Egypt Political Parties


UN Warns Bahrain Over Crackdown

By Al Jazeera English

18 March 11

The United Nations has warned Bahrain that its violent crackdown on anti-government protesters might be breaking international law. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, called King Hamad of the Gulf state on Thursday to express his "deepest concern" about Bahrain's use of force, which allegedly includes security forces preventing doctors from treating injured protesters.

The secretary-general, who called during a visit to Guatemala, "expressed his deepest concern over reports of excessive and indiscriminate use of force by the security forces and police in Bahrain against unarmed civilians, including, allegedly, against medical personnel," a UN statement said. He also "noted that such actions could be in breach of international humanitarian and human rights law." READ MORE


Bahrain Violence Escalates


Defiant Gaddafi Vows 'Decisive Battle'

By Al Jazeera English

17 March 11

A defiant Muammar Gaddafi has promised a "decisive battle" to recapture the rebel-held town of Misurata, undaunted by growing international pressure for a UN-sponsored no-fly zone over Libya to rein him in. "The battle continues at Misurata on Thursday, that will be the decisive battle," state television quoted Gaddafi as saying on Thursday.

"You are going to be called to take up arms and on Thursday you will take part in the battle," he added, addressing a group of young people from Misurata. Gaddafi urged his audience "not to leave Misurata hostage in the hands of a handful of madmen".

On Tuesday, Libyan state television said the army would soon move against the rebel-stronghold of Benghazi, while a day before Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam had predicted that everything would be over within 48 hours. Mussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman, said on Thursday that Misurata was "almost entirely under control. This is the final stage. It should be over by [Friday] morning". READ MORE


Pakistan Furore Over American's Release

By By Al Jazeera English

17 March 11

Pakistan has witnessed widespread protests a day after Raymond Davis - a CIA contractor accused of killing two Pakistani youths in Lahore - was released and flown out of Pakistan. Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from the north western city of Peshawar, on Thursday said many Pakistanis were incensed and described his release as a sell-out.

"Hundreds of students at Peshawar University with banners and slogans expressed their anger. An effigy of Raymond Davis was also burnt after the protest. "They alleged that Davis was a spy and asked why was he let go?" READ MORE


4 New York Times Journalists Missing in Libya

By Chris Hawley, Associated Press

16 March 11

Four New York Times journalists covering the fighting in Libya were reported missing Wednesday, and the newspaper held out hope that they were alive and in the custody of the Libyan government.

Editors last heard from the journalists on Tuesday as they were covering the retreat of rebels from the town of Ajdabiya, and Libyan officials told the newspaper they were trying to locate the four, executive editor Bill Keller said in a statement. The Times said there were unconfirmed reports that forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had detained the foursome.

"We are grateful to the Libyan government for their assurance that if our journalists were captured they would be released promptly and unharmed," Keller said. READ MORE


Somalis Flee Libya's Violence


Bahrain Crackdown Routs Protesters, Kills 5

By Barbara Surk and Reem Khalifa, Associated Press

16 March 11

Soldiers and riot police expelled hundreds of protesters from a landmark square in Bahrain's capital on Wednesday, using tear gas and armored vehicles to try to subdue the growing movement challenging the 200-year-old monarchy. At least five people were killed as clashes flared across the kingdom, according to witnesses and officials.

The unrest that began last month has increasingly showed signs of a sectarian showdown: The country's Sunni leaders are desperate to hold power, and majority Shiites are calling for an end to their dynasty. A Saudi-led force from Gulf allies, fearful for their own regimes and worried about Shiite Iran's growing influence, has grown to more than 1,000 soldiers.

Wednesday's full-scale assault launched at dawn in Pearl Square, the center of the uprising inspired by Arab revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. Hours later, security forces were picking through burned debris and other remains of the protest camp. In another area of Bahrain, one witness described police in a village "hunting" Shiites in what could be part of a wider campaign of intimidation. READ MORE


G8 Ministers and UN Discuss Libya No-Fly Zone


Bahrain Under State of Emergency

By Al Jazeera English

15 March 11

The king of Bahrain has declared a state of emergency for three months on the island following weeks of anti-government protests, state television said. An order by the king "authorised the commander of Bahrain's defence forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens," a statement read out on television on Tuesday said.

The development comes a day after a Saudi-led military forces arrived to help prop up the government, which is facing pressure from the Shia majority to implement reforms. Hundreds of Saudi-led troops entered Bahrain on Monday to help protect government facilities there amid escalating the protests against the government. READ MORE


Yemen Deports Foreign Journalists

By Al Jazeera English

14 March 11

Yemeni security forces have raided an apartment shared by four Western journalists and deported them apparently over their coverage of growing anti-government protests in the country. The expulsions on Monday came amid further demonstrations in the impoverished Gulf state.

Oliver Holmes, one of the journalists, said that said that one of the agents told him they were being kicked out because of their coverage of the protests. "The situation in Yemen has got quite dire in the past three days," said Holmes, a British citizen, speaking by telephone from the airport in Qatar. "We have all been reporting on the use of violence by the police."

The other journalists who were deported are Haley Sweetland Edwards and Joshua Maricich, both US nationals, and Portia Walker, a British citizen. Reporters Without Borders condemned the move, noting that two other journalists - Patrick Symmes, a US citizen, and Marco Di Lauro, an Italian photographer - were deported on Saturday. READ MORE


Gaddafi Forces Bomb Libya Rebels

By Jon Leyne, BBC News

14 March 11

Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces are slowly pushing towards the main rebel-held towns in Libya, reports say. Ajdabiya, the last major town before the rebel base in Benghazi, came under heavy aerial attack. In the west, ground forces and tanks have begun shelling the town of Zuwara.

Rebels say they have retaken Brega, but the government has denied the claim. Earlier, the UN Security Council met to discuss the imposition of a no - fly zone, but there was no consensus.

The BBC's Barbara Plett says there were divisions about authorising such a zone, with France calling it a game-changer, but countries such as Russia expressed caution, saying serious questions remained. Meanwhile, a UN envoy, Abdul Ilah Khatib, has met with Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Kusa in Tripoli. READ MORE


Saudi Troops 'Sent Into Bahrain'

By Al Jazeera English and Agencies

14 March 11

A Saudi military force of about 1,000 has entered Bahrain to help protect government facilities there, according to reports citing Saudi sources. The reports on Monday follow weeks of unrest in the tiny Gulf State, which lies between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

"About 1,000 Saudi soldiers entered Bahrain early on Monday morning through the causeway to Bahrain," the Reuters news agency reported a Saudi source as saying. READ MORE


Pitched Street Battle in Yemeni Capital


Police, Protesters Clash in Bahrain


Gadhafi Forces Shell Oil Town as Troops Advance

By Paul Schemm and Diaa Hadid, Associated Press

13 March 11

roops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi shelled an oil town in eastern Libya on Sunday, pounding pockets of resistance during their swift advance on the country's poorly equipped and loosely organized rebels.

Rebel officials in their stronghold of Benghazi told The Associated Press that Brega, the site of a major oil terminal, came under heavy shelling Sunday. Libyan state television reported that government troops had retaken the town, and one of the rebels heeding an order to fall back under the heavy bombardment said he heard from comrades that the town did slip out of their control a short while later.

The loss of Brega would be the latest in a series of setbacks for opposition forces who just a week ago held the entire eastern half of the country and were charging toward the capital, Tripoli. But Gadhafi's troops have reversed many of those early gains, bearing down on the rebels with superior firepower from the air. READ MORE


Yemen Police Fire on Protesters

By Al Jazeera English

13 March 11

Dozens of anti-government protesters in Yemen have been injured after security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at demonstrators in the capital. Witnesses said police and supporters of the ruling General People's Congress party attacked protesters occupying University Square on Sunday with live gunfire and tear gas.

Several thousand people had gathered in Sanaa early in the day, setting up barricades in an effort to separate themselves from riot police. Witnesses said most of the wounded were suffering severe effects from tear gas but some were hit by bullets and two of them were thought to be in a serious condition.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reporting from Sanaa said security forces along with government loyalists started opening fire on the protesters, beating them with batons, throwing rocks and also firing tear gas canisters. "At least 70 people have been injured, 14 of whom had bullet wounds ... two of them in very critical condition," he said. READ MORE


Egypt Opens Up Political Space

By Al Jazeera English and Agencies

13 March 11

Egypt's military rulers are opening up political space by scrapping a law that has severely restricted the formation of new political parties, a government official has said. The official, who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to reporters, said on Saturday that the restrictions that gave ousted President Hosni Mubarak a virtual veto over establishment of political parties would be lifted after a referendum next week on constitutional changes.

The move, the latest liberalisation of the strict regime of Mubarak, would pave the way for fair parliamentary and presidential elections. It comes days after Essam Sharaf, the new prime minister, unveiled a cabinet that includes new ministers for the key posts of foreign, interior and justice.

The official said new political parties would only need to notify authorities of their formation. Under Mubarak, they had to receive approval from a committee dominated by the National Democratic Party (NDP), the ruling party which ensured the president's control over his rivals. READ MORE


Gaddafi's Army Will Kill Half a Million, Warn Libyan Rebels

By Chris McGreal, Guardian UK

12 March 11

Muammar Gaddafi's army won control of a strategic rebel - held Libyan town and laid siege to another as the revolutionary administration in Benghazi again appealed for foreign military help to prevent what it said would be the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people if the insurgents were to lose.

The rebels admitted retreating from the oil town of Ras Lanuf - captured a week ago - after two days of intense fighting and that the nearby town of Brega was now threatened.

The revolutionary army, in large part made up of inexperienced young volunteers, has been forced back by a sustained artillery, tank and air bombardment about 20 miles along the road to the rebel capital of Benghazi. READ MORE

Further Gains for Gaddafi in East


Yemen Police Storm Protest Site

By Al Jazeera

12 March 11

At least one person has been killed and more than 100 injured after Yemen security forces stormed a protest site where thousands of pro-democracy protesters have been camped out for weeks, demanding the ouster of the country's leader. In a pre-dawn raid on Saturday, police are said to have used tear gas and hot water mixed with gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the capital Sanaa, said that the situation remains tense, and that the opposition is accusing the government of committing crimes against the protesters. "They also say the raid will speed up the revolution, and that president Ali Abdullah Saleh must go now before [he] faces the wrath of the people," he said.

Also on Saturday, at least three students were injured when security forces opened fire at protesters in the city of Taiz, who gathered to demand that Saleh be put on trial. READ MORE


Arab League Considers Libyan No-Fly Zone

By Al Jazeera

12 March 11

Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, has called for a no-fly zone over Libya, and has said the bloc wants a role in imposing it. His comments come as members of the organisation meet in the Egyptian capital Cairo for talks on the ongoing crisis.

"I do not know how nor who will impose this zone, that remains to be seen. The Arab League can also play a role, that is what I will recommend," Mussa said on Saturday in an interview with a German magazine. "I am talking about a humanitarian action. It consists, with a no-fly zone, of supporting the Libyan people in their fight for freedom against a regime that is more and more disdainful."

Support from the West for a no-fly zone appears to hinge on the outcome of the meeting as consensus is sought for such an action. Al Jazeera's James Bays reported from Cairo that there are two key topics that will be on the table at the meeting: the no-fly zone and the league’s diplomatic relationship with Libya. READ MORE


EU Calls for Gaddafi Exit


Arab World Witnesses More Protests, But Saudi Quiet

By Al Jazeera English

11 March 11

Several countries across the Arab world have witnessed fresh anti-government protests, although "Day of Rage" demonstrations planned in Saudi Arabia failed to materialise in the wake of a security clampdown.

Demonstrations in Saudi Arabia were supposed to start in after Friday prayers at noon but as the mosques emptied there were no signs of rallies, with security forces manning checkpoints in key locations across several cities. Online activists using Facebook and Twitter had called for the "Day of Rage" and a "Saudi March 11 revolution" demanding a fully elected parliament and ruler.

In the strategic Olaya commercial centre of the capital Riyadh, where protesters were urged to congregate, hundreds of security personnel surrounded the mosque and inspected motorists' identification documents. Clerics sermonised against demonstrations, saying public agitation was unjustified under Islamic teachings and would only spread chaos. READ MORE


Clinton to Meet With Libyan Rebels

By Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times

10 March 11

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that she would meet with Libyan rebel leaders in the United States and during travels next week to France, Tunisia and Egypt. Mrs. Clinton did not identify the Libyan rebel leaders she intended to meet.

American officials have reached out to members of the rebels' provisional council in eastern Libya, directly and through intermediaries, but Mrs. Clinton's meetings will be the administration's highest-level contacts with those who hope to replace the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

"We are standing with the Libyan people as they brave bombs and bullets to demand that Qaddafi must go - now," Mrs. Clinton said in remarks to a House panel.]



Saudi Police Open Fire on Pro-Democracy Protesters

By Staff and Agencies, Gaurdian UK

10 March 11

Police in Saudi Arabia have opened fire at a rally in the country's east in an apparent escalation of efforts to stop planned protests.

Government officials have warned they will take strong action if activists take to the streets after increasing calls for large protests around the oil-rich kingdom to press for democratic reforms.

A witness in the city of Qatif said bullets and stun grenades were fired at several hundred protesters marching in the city streets on Thursday, the Associated Press reported..



Libyan Rebels Keep Battling Regime, Gain French Recognition

By Associated Press

10 March 11

France became the first country to formally recognize the rebels' newly created Interim Governing Council, saying it planned to exchange ambassadors after President Nicolas Sarkozy met with two representatives of the group based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

"It breaks the ice," said Mustafa Gheriani, an opposition spokesman. "We expect Italy to do it, and we expect England to do it."

Germany said it froze billions in assets of the Libyan Central Bank and other state-run agencies. The U.S., UK, Switzerland, Austria and other countries have also frozen Kadafi's assets.

"The brutal suppression of the Libyan freedom movement can now no longer be financed from funds that are in German banks," Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said.



Best of ArabLeaks

By Foreign Policy

10 March 11

Ever since those first cables from Tunis leaked on Dec. 7, 2010, informing the world that Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's extended family was a "quasi-mafia" and that his son-in-law's "over the top" mansion housed not only an infinity pool but also a tiger who fed on "four chickens a day," WikiLeaks has been intimately bound up with the revolutions. Indeed, the Tunisian uprising began only 10 days later, and its shock waves have spread across the Arab world.

If it's too much of a leap to say that the cables gave rise to the protests, they certainly provided a lens through which the Arab public could, finally, get a candid glimpse as to how Washington saw their leaders: Omar Suleiman's brief tenure as vice president of Egypt was illuminated by a few cables discussing his toadying relationships with Israel, the CIA, and President Hosni Mubarak. And embattled Libyan leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's image in the Western world took on a lurid spin after the leak of an early cable about his "personal proclivities." Not only did WikiLeaks reveal his voluptuous Ukrainian nurse to the world, it encapsulated his decades of rule: "While it is tempting to dismiss his many eccentricities as signs of instability," read the cable, "Qadhafi is a complicated individual who has managed to stay in power for forty years through a skillful balancing of interests and realpolitik methods."]



Hoard of Cash Lets Qaddafi Extend Fight Against Rebels

By James Risen, The New York Times

10 March 11

The Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has "tens of billions" in cash secretly hidden away in Tripoli, allowing him to prolong his fight against rebel forces despite an international freeze on many of the Libyan government's assets, according to American and other intelligence officials. Colonel Qaddafi has control over the huge cash deposits, which have been stored at the Libyan Central Bank and other banks around the Libyan capital in recent years, the officials said.]



3 BBC Journalists Report Being Tortured in Libya

David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

10 March 11

Security forces working for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi physically abused and psychologically terrorized three British Broadcasting Corporation correspondents for 21 hours after they were detained trying to reach the scene of a bloody battle in a city just 30 miles from the capital, the journalists reported Wednesday night. They said they were beaten with fists and rifles, hooded and subjected to mock executions. And they said that while in custody at a military barracks they saw other victims, many of them from the city they were trying to reach, Zawiyah, who had suffered from torture far worse.]



The Women of Benghazi


Egypt: ElBaradei 'to Run' for President

By Al Jazeera English

10 March 11

Mohammed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate and former head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, has said on a privately owned TV channel that he intends to run for president in Egypt's 2011 presidential election. "When the door of presidential nominations opens, I intend to nominate myself," ElBaradei said on ONTV channel on Wednesday.

ElBaradei also said that suggested constitutional amendments to move Egypt toward democracy are 'superficial.' He appealed to the military rulers to scrap them or delay a scheduled March 19 referendum on them. "We are at a decisive period in Egypt's history, We shouldn't rush. Everything should be on a solid basis." he said. READ MORE


Battles Rage Over Libyan Cities

By Al Jazeera English

10 March 11

Pro- and anti-government forces are locked in intense fighting for control of several cities and towns across Libya, where a near month-long uprising is threatening to end Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's more than 41-year-old rule. Some of the fiercest fighting is taking place in the cities of Ras Lanuf, Brega and Bin Jawad, besides Az Zawiyah, 50km west of the capital Tripoli.

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, reporting from Ajdabiya, said that the pro-Gaddafi forces are intensifying their counter-assault on the rebel forces. "The latest that we've heard on Thursday is that the Gaddafi forces are attacking by land from the west, along the coastal roads. They're also attacking from the south, from the desert," she said.

"And, a key development, they're attacking as well from the sea, to the north. This clearly is a concerted effort to route the rebels from their western-most positions, and it comes on the heels of intense fighting from the two sides the day before." READ MORE


Libyan General Joins Rebels in Zawiya

By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times

09 March 11

Libyan general has switched sides in one of two fiercely contested western cities that have been strongholds of the opposition to Moammar Kadafi, state television said Tuesday.

Fierce fighting continued in the city of Zawiya, which has emerged as one of two key battlegrounds in the area around the capital, Tripoli. Although Kadafi controls the capital, his opponents have seized much of the eastern part of the country and are working on forming a competing government.

In an "urgent" on-screen caption, a state-controlled television station reported that Maj. Gen. Khalid Shahmah had joined the rebels in Zawiya. It did not further identify the general or clarify his role in the military.. READ MORE


Libyan Official Flies to Egypt With Message From Gadhafi

By Paul Schemm and Maggie Michael, Associated Press

09 March 11

A high-ranking member of the Libyan military flew to Cairo on Wednesday with a message for Egyptian army officials from Moammar Gadhafi, whose troops pounded opposition forces with artillery barrages and gunfire in at least two major cities.

Gadhafi appeared to be keeping up the momentum he has seized in recent days in his fight against rebels trying to move on the capital, Tripoli, from territory they hold in eastern Libya.

Gadhafi's successes have left Western powers struggling to come up with a plan to support the rebels without becomg ensnared in the complex and fast-moving conflict. READ MORE


Violence Against Protesters Fuels Anger in Yemen


Iraqis Fear Repression and Intolerance


UN/NATO Eye No-Fly Zone, Increased Surveillance of Libya

By Julian Borger and Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian UK

08 March 11

David Cameron and Barack Obama agreed to draw up "the full spectrum" of military responses to the crisis in Libya as Britain won important US support for a possible no-fly zone over the country.

The prime minister, who has faced accusations that he was isolated over a no-fly zone, agreed in a telephone call with the president that a major international operation will swing into action if Muammar Gaddafi refuses to leave office.

Julian Borger and Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian UK READ MORE


Gaddafi's Forces Slow Rebel Advance


Washington Divided Over the Politics of Intervention

By David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, The New York Times

08 March 11

Nearly three weeks after Libya erupted in what may now turn into a protracted civil war, the politics of military intervention to speed the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi grow more complicated by the day - for both the White House and Republicans.

President Obama, appearing Monday morning with Australia's prime minister, tried to raise the pressure on Colonel Qaddafi further by talking about "a range of potential options, including potential military options" against the embattled Libyan leader.

Despite Mr. Obama's statement, interviews with military officials and other administration officials describe a number of risks, some tactical and others political, to American intervention in Libya. READ MORE


Libya: US Weighs Options, on Air and Sea

By Thom Shanker, The New York Times

07 March 11

American military planners are sifting through a range of options as the United States, like other Western nations, weighs the response to the bloody Libyan military assaults on rebels trying to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Rebel commanders have begged for American strikes on troops and weapons that have turned on civilians and assaulted strongholds of the resistance. And on Sunday, three prominent members of the United States Senate, from both major political parties, renewed the Senate's call for consideration of enforcing a "no - flight" zone to ground the Libyan air force and prevent it from attacking its people. They also pressed the Obama administration for a more aggressive response, including supplying intelligence, arms and training to the rebels. READ MORE


Bahrain Protests Reach US Embassy

By Al Jazeera English

07 March 11

Dozens of Shia Muslim political activists in Bahrain have gathered outside the US embassy, one of several scenes of protest in the Gulf state, calling on Washington to press for political reforms. Activists gathered at a fence set up in front of the embassy on Monday, chanting slogans in English and Arabic against the monarchy of Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa. Opposition supporters claim that the US is showing less support for the movements in Bahrain than it did for the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that ousted those countries' presidents.

The AFP news agency reported that a US embassy political officer, Ludovic Hood, brought a box of doughnuts for the demonstrators as they gathered down the street from the embassy in the run-up to the rally. "These sweets are a good gesture, but we hope it is translated into practical actions," Mohammed Hassan, who wore the white turban of a cleric, told Hood.

But Zeinab al-Khawaja, a protest organiser, told Al Jazeera that the US needed to keep its distance from events in Bahrain. "We want America not to get involved, we can overthrow this regime," she said. "All we want is for America not to support the dictatorship in Bahrain." READ MORE


Egypt's New Cabinet Takes Oath of Office

By Al Jazeera English

07 March 11

Egypt's new prime minister and his cabinet have been sworn in by the country's military rulers. Egyptian state television on Monday showed members of the government taking their oath before Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of Egypt's armed forces supreme council.

Headed by Essam Sharaf, the prime minister, the cabinet includes new faces in the key foreign, interior and justice ministries. Sharaf was appointed on Thursday after protests against the presence of allies of Hosni Mubarak, the ousted president, in the caretaker government.

The new cabinet is expected to be met with the approval of the pro-reform groups that led the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak from power on February 11. The government's main job will be to help steer the country through reforms, a constitutional referendum and towards free elections. READ MORE


A Million Libyans Need Aid; UK, France Seek No-Fly Zone

By Mohammed Abbas, Reuters

07 March 11

Britain and France said they were seeking U.N. authority for a no-fly zone over Libya, as Muammar Gaddafi's warplanes counter-attacked against rebels and aid officials said a million people were in need.

Rebels swiftly rejected an olive branch offered by an associate of Gaddafi, and fighting escalated around a key oil port. The ageing autocrat warned that if he fell thousands of refugees would "invade Europe."

With civilians surrounded by forces loyal to Gaddafi in two western towns, Misrata and Zawiyah, fears grew of a rising humanitarian crisis if the fighting continued. U.N. aid coordinator Valerie Amos said more than a million people fleeing or inside the country needed humanitarian aid. READ MORE


Libyan Rebels, Kadafi Regime Both Claim Victories

By Borzou Daragahi and Garrett Therolf, Los Angeles Times

07 March 11

Government attacks on Zawiya and Misurata continue to kill scores of civilians, but witnesses report that the rebels are holding their ground using light guns, Molotov cocktails and knives.

Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi renewed attacks against strategic cities near the capital Sunday, and though his deputies insisted they were overwhelmingly successful, the reality appeared to be very different.

Attacks by tanks, guns and helicopters on Zawiya and Misurata continued to kill scores of civilians, but witnesses widely reported that the cities were retained by rebels at the end of the day. READ MORE


A Libyan Leader at War With Rebels, and Reality

David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times

07 March 2011

Sunday was just another day spent through the looking glass of the oil-financed and omnipresent cult of personality that Colonel Qaddafi has spent 41 years building in Libya. Few of the claims by the Libyan state media lined up with the facts — there was no decisive victory by his forces — and the heavy firing in Tripoli on Sunday morning was never persuasively explained. But accuracy and logic have never been the tenets of Colonel Qaddafi’s governing philosophy, and their absence is especially conspicuous now, as rebels pose the greatest challenge to his four decades of enigmatic rule. READ MORE


Kadafi Forces Backed by Warplanes Push Rebels Back

By Reuters

06 March 11

The opposition is pushed away from the coastal town of Bin Jawwad, and its advance on Kadafi's hometown of Sirte is halted.

Ground forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi, backed up by warplanes, pushed rebels away from the coastal town of Bin Jawwad on Sunday to stop their advance on Kadafi's hometown of Sirte.

One fighter, returning wounded from Bin Jawwad to rebel-held Ras Lanuf further east, said Kadafi loyalists had ambushed advancing rebels with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. READ MORE


Libyan Forces Try to Halt Rebel Move Toward Capital

By Paul Schemm and Maggie Michael, Associated Press

06 March 11

Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, some in helicopter gunships, pounded opposition fighters with artillery, rockets and gunfire Sunday, dramatically escalating their counteroffensive to halt the rebels' rapid advance toward the capital.

They also battled to loosen the grip of rebels on two cities close to Tripoli. But in at least one case, their tactics appeared to lead them into a trap.

Residents said pro-Gadhafi troops punched into the city of Misrata, 120 miles (200 kilometers) east of Tripoli, the capital, with mortars and tanks but were pushed out five hours later by rebel forces. The rebel commanders intentionally opened the way for government tanks to enter the city, then surrounded them and attacked with anti-aircraft guns and mortars, said Abdel Fatah al-Misrati, one of the rebels. READ MORE


'SAS Unit' Captured in Libya

By Martin Chulov, Polly Curtis and Amy Fallon, Guardian UK

06 March 11

The defence secretary, Liam Fox, has confirmed that a "small diplomatic team" is in Benghazi to talk to Libyan rebels but refused to confirm reports that any British nationals had been detained.

According to Guardian sources, a suspected British intelligence and special forces unit, which parachuted in about four days ago, was caught near the town of Khandra, about 20 miles west of Benghazi.

A senior member of Benghazi's revolutionary council said: "They were carrying espionage equipment, reconnaissance equipment, multiple passports and weapons. This is no way to conduct yourself during an uprising." READ MORE


Thousands Protest in Bahrain

By Al Jazeera English

06 March 11

Thousands of protesters have gathered outside the prime minister's office in Bahrain to demand that he step down, as their campaign for reform in the tiny Gulf nation enters its third week. Protesters massed on Sunday at the Al-Qudaibiya Palace in the capital, Manama, where Bahrain's cabinet usually meets, chanting slogans against the government and King Hamad.

Demonstrators shouted "topple Hamad! Topple Hamad!". "Hey Khalifa, get out! Get out!" they chanted, referring to the country's long-time prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa.

"We want the prime minister to go," Alaa al-Nasr, a 24-year-old demonstrator, told the AFP news agency. The protesters are demanding the prime minister step down because of corruption and a deadly crackdown on the opposition in which seven people were killed. READ MORE


Yemen Opposition Vows to Intensify Protests

By Hammoud Mounassar, Agence France-Presse

06 March 11

Yemen's opposition movement vowed on Sunday to intensify protests against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, after the embattled leader refused to resign by the end of the year.

With violence gripping the strategic US ally on multiple fronts, the United States and Britain advised citizens to consider leaving the Arabian peninsula nation and warned against all but essential travel.

Mohammed Sabri, a leading member of the opposition Common Forum, vowed to step up anti-government demonstrations which have left at least 19 people dead since February 16, according to an AFP toll. "We have called upon the people to widen demonstrations and escalate the peaceful struggle in all regions until he (Saleh) is left with one option, that is to leave," he said. READ MORE


New Day in Egypt: Protesters Storm State Security Offices

By Hannah Allam, McClatchy Newspapers

05 March 11

Cairo, Egypt - Trudging through dungeon-like cells and mounds of shredded documents, hundreds of Egyptians on Saturday surged into the Cairo headquarters of the dreaded State Security apparatus for an unprecedented look inside buildings where political prisoners endured horrific torture.

Some former prisoners sobbed as they saw their old cells, recalling electric shocks and severe beatings. Families held passport photos of missing relatives and were desperate to explore the dank chambers for clues to their fates.

Dismantling State Security, the shadowy and all-powerful intelligence force, was a key demand of protesters who forced the resignation last month of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. When the military-led interim authority failed to dissolve the agency immediately, protesters in Cairo and the port city of Alexandria descended on State Security offices this weekend to seize files they hoped would cement Mubarak's legacy of prisoner abuse and disappearances. READ MORE


Libyan Rebels Battle Gaddafi Loyalists


Libya Rebels Repel Gaddafi Forces

By Al Jazeera English

05 March 11

Anti-government fighters in the western Libyan town of Az Zawiyah have pushed back forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan president, following a fierce assault on the town. Gaddafi's forces on Saturday encircled Az Zawiyah, which lies just 50km west of the capital Tripoli, manning checkpoints about 3km from the centre, according to reports.

Fighters in the town said a another counter-attack could come soon, and by the afternoon there were reports that government forces were again shelling the town. "There is news that the Gaddafi security forces are gathering at the outside of the city and we are bracing ourselves for another attack," Hamdi, a doctor inside Az Zawiya, told Al Jazeera.

More than 30 people were killed and as many as 200 people were said to have been wounded in the fighting that drove government forces out of the town. READ MORE


Qaddafi's Militia Storms Key Town Controlled by Rebels

By David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

05 March 11

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's militia stormed the rebels controlling the town of Zawiyah on Saturday morning in what two residents described as a "massacre."

"I am watching neighbors dying unarmed in front of their homes," one resident said in a telephone interview, with the sounds of heavy weapons and machine-gun fire in the background. The resident said the militias were using tanks and heavy artillery, attacking from both the east and west gates of the town. "I don't know how many are being killed, but I know my neighborhood is being killed," the resident said.

In a telephone interview a little more than three hours after the attack began, another resident said: "Everything is burning. We don't know from which side they are shooting us - from the buildings or from the streets. People are falling everywhere." READ MORE


Protests Continue in Yemen

By Al Jazeera English

05 March 11

Tens of thousands are continuing with protests in several key cities across Yemen, pressing on with demands that the country's president step down. The government has suspended classes at the universities in the capital Sanaa and the southern port city of Aden, which have been the focal points for daily demonstrations, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

The protesters are rallying on the main squares of Sanaa, Aden, and the cities of Taiz and Hadramawt. They are also demanding an investigation into the killing of four people during protests a day earlier in the northern town of Harf Sofyan.

Yemeni soldiers had opened fire on anti-government protesters on Friday, killing at least four people and wounding around seven others. READ MORE


Serbia, Arms Dealer to Libya, Silent on Rebellion

By Dusan Stojanovic, Associated Press

05 March 11

As Libya churned with popular rebellion, Serbia's ex-president flew to Tripoli to arrange an interview with Moammar Gadhafi for a Serbian TV channel - giving the Libyan leader a platform to bluster about his grip on power. "The Libyan people are fully behind me," Gadhafi defiantly told Pink TV in a telephone interview.

The gesture of support for Gadhafi was not officially endorsed by the Serbian government. But it has been criticized at home for failing to join worldwide condemnation of Gadhafi's bloody crackdown against the uprising.

A possible reason for the silence: hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military and construction contracts. Serbia's cozy ties with Libya sit ill with its recent efforts to rehabilitate its image after the Balkan wars, in particular by participating in peace keeping missions. READ MORE


Gadhafi Forces Battle Rebels as 37 Killed in Libya

Maggie Michael, Associated Press

04 March 11

Moammar Gadhafi's regime struck back at its opponents with a powerful attack Friday on the closest opposition-held city to Tripoli and a barrage of tear gas and live ammunition to smother new protests in the capital. At least 37 people died in fighting and in an explosion at an ammunitions depot in Libya's rebellious east.

The bloodshed signaled an escalation in efforts by both sides to break the deadlock that has gripped Libya's 18-day upheaval, which has lasted longer than the Egyptian revolt that led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and inspired a wave of protests across the region.

So far, Gadhafi has had little success in taking back territory, with several rebel cities repelling assaults and the entire eastern half of the country under rebel control. But the opposition forces have seemed unable to go on the offensive to march on pro-Gadhafi areas. READ MORE


Libya: Battle To Hold Brega


Protesters Converge on Iraq Capital

By Al Jazeera English

04 March 11

Thousands of people have converged on Baghdad's Tahrir, or Liberation, Square for an anti-government demonstration, despite a vehicle ban that forced many to walk for hours to the heart of the Iraqi capital.

Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reported from Baghdad that the situation was heading towards a stand-off, as security forces demanded the protesters leave, blocking their route across a bridge leading to the Green Zone, where the government has its base. Concrete blocks were set up by authorities on all of Baghdad's bridges ahead of the protests.

"What we're seeing here is a bit of a test, of how the government will respond when these people clearly want their demands to be heard," Arraf said. READ MORE


Fresh Protests Hit Libyan Capital

By Al Jazeera English

04 March 11

At least 1,000 people protesting against the rule of Muammar Gaddafi have taken to the streets of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, raising fears of fresh conflict between anti-government protesters and loyalist forces. Protests called by the opposition began on Friday when worshippers streamed out of a mosque in the centre of the city, chanting "Gaddaf is the enemy of God", witnesses said.

"This is the end for Gaddafi. It's over. Forty years of crimes are over," Faragha Salim, an engineer at the protest, told the Reuters news agency.

Pro-Gaddafi forces fired tear gas at protesters, the AP news agency said, saying at least five cannisters were fired at the crowd in the district of Tajoura in the capital. "They fired teargas. I heard shooting. People are scattering," a reporter from the Reuters news agency in Tajoura said. READ MORE


Bowing to Opposition, Egypt's Premier Resigns

By Liam Stack, The New York Times

03 March 11

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq resigned on Thursday, bowing to one of the main demands of Egypt's opposition movement which has demanded his ouster for days from its informal headquarters in a resurrected tent city in Tahrir Square.

Egypt's transitional military government, which has ruled since the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, announced its decision to replace Mr. Shafiq on a Facebook page. The new prime minister will be Essam Sharaf, who served as transportation minister from 2004 to 2006.

Mr. Shafiq's resignation was one of several demands protesters said had to be met by the military and comes one day before a planned major demonstration in Tahrir Square to call for the removal all Mubarak-era ministers, including Mr. Shafiq and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. READ MORE


Pakistan Minister Shahbaz Bhatti Shot Dead in Islamabad

By Declan Walsh, Guardian UK

02 March 11

Shahbaz Bhatti - a Christian critic of Pakistan's blasphemy laws - killed by assassins who left leaflets signed 'Taliban al-Qaida'.

Self-described Taliban gunmen have shot dead Pakistan's minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, an advocate of reform of the country's blasphemy laws, as he left his Islamabad home.

Two assassins sprayed the Christian minister's car with gunfire, striking him at least eight times, before scattering pamphlets that described him as a "Christian infidel." The leaflets were signed "Taliban al-Qaida Punjab." READ MORE


Libya Refugee Crisis Called a 'Logistical Nightmare'

By Shira Cowen and Alan Cowell, The New York Times

03 March 11

As an international airlift organized by European nations got underway on Thursday, the head of the United Nations refugee agency said it was proving a "logistical nightmare" to help tens of thousands of migrant workers fleeing Libya in a desperate crush on the Tunisian border.

As the refugees wait - some as long as four days - many are sleeping on dusty concrete and hard-packed dirt, shielded against the cold in blankets handed out by the Tunisian government and aid groups; others have hung the blankets from trees to create makeshift tents.

Britain and France said Wednesday that they would send planes to airlift stranded Egyptians - a majority of the refugees, along with Bangladeshis, sub-Saharan Africans and others - from the Tunisian border. Many Egyptians have headed to the Tunisian border because it is closer to Tripoli, Libya's capital, where most had worked. READ MORE


Fresh Air Strikes Hit Rebel Libyan Town


Gates Warns of Risks of a No-Flight Zone

By David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, The New York Times

03 March 11

With rebels in Libya calling for Western airstrikes on forces supporting Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates warned Congress on Wednesday that even a more modest effort to establish a no-flight zone over Libya would have to begin with an attack on the country's air defenses and would require "a big operation in a big country."

Mr. Gates's caution illustrates the chasm between what the rebels and some leading members of Congress are calling for and what President Obama appears willing to do in Libya. Mr. Obama and his aides have argued that it is not yet clear that the insurgents need the help - and they have warned that the use of American airpower could fuel the arguments of those in the Middle East who see a Washington conspiracy behind homegrown uprisings. READ MORE


Rebels Corner Fleeing Gadhafi Forces
After Battle

Associated Press

02 March 11

Rebel forces routed troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in a fierce battle over an oil port Wednesday, scrambling over the dunes of a Mediterranean beach through shelling and an airstrike to corner their attackers. While they thwarted the regime's first counteroffensive in eastern Libya, opposition leaders still pleaded for outside airstrikes to help them oust the longtime leader. READ MORE


Please Don't Intervene

Muhammad min Libya, Guardian UK

02 March 11

So as the calls for foreign intervention grow, I'd like to send a message to western leaders: Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy. This is a priceless opportunity that has fallen into your laps, it's a chance for you to improve your image in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims. Don't mess it up. All your previous programmes to bring the east and the west closer have failed, and some of them have made things even worse. Don't start something you cannot finish, don't turn a people's pure revolution into some curse that will befall everyone. READ MORE


Battle for Libya: Gaddafi Counter-Attacks in the East


Battle Rages Over Libyan Oil Port

Al Jazeera

02 March 11

The Libyan air force has bombed the oil refinery and port town of Marsa El Brega as battles between forces loyal and against Muammar Gaddafi raged in several towns across the North African country. "We just watched an air force jet ... fly over Brega and drop at least one bomb and huge plumes of smoke are now coming out," Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley said on Wednesday. The warplane from Gadhafi's air force struck a beach near where the two sides were fighting at a university campus. A witness said the blast raised a plume of sand from a dune but caused no casualties, apparently an attempt to scare off the anti-Gadhafi fighters besieging regime forces in the campus. READ MORE


UK, France & US Want No-Fly Zone Over Libya


Qaddafi Makes Little Headway in Assault on Libyan Rebels

Kareem Fahim and David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

01 March 2011

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's forces appeared to make little headway in a concerted assault on rebels in several cities around the country and in a sustained attack early Tuesday morning in the western city of Zawiyah. With escalating hostilities bringing Libya closer to civil war, rebels appeared to hold the city after a night of fighting, fending off tanks and artillery vehicles, special forces and regular army troops, and, rebels said, fighter jets. READ MORE


Protesters in Yemen Return to Streets

Laura Kasinof, The New York Times

01 March 2011

As thousands of demonstrators for and against President Ali Abdullah Saleh took to the streets on Tuesday, a cleric accused by the United States of having links to Al Qaeda joined the protesters for the first time to call for the replacement of the government with an Islamic state. The call by Sheik Abdul Majid al-Zindani seemed a marked contrast to the upheaval that brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and threatens the rulers of Libya, Bahrain, Oman, and Yemen where uprisings have been seen as secular and inspired by democratic goals. READ MORE


Fierce Fighting in Libya As West Prepares to Intervene


US Repositioning Forces in Libyan Region

By BBC News

28 February 11

The US defence department says it is repositioning forces in the Libya region as the West weighs potential intervention against Muammar Gaddafi. The Pentagon said it was moving forces to "provide for that flexibility once decisions are made".

The US already has a significant presence close to Libya, with several bases in southern Italy. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said US forces could be used for delivering humanitarian assistance.

Meanwhile, the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, told reporters in Washington the US was "actively and seriously" considering establishing a no-fly zone and was in talks with Nato and other potential military partners. READ MORE


US, UK Tighten Military Grip On Gaddafi

Julian Borger, Patrick Wintour and Martin Chulov, The Guardian UK

28 February 2011

The west is edging towards a possible military confrontation with Muammar Gaddafi's regime, as the US deployed naval and air force units around Libya, and David Cameron ordered contingency plans for a no-fly zone. The prime minister said he had told the Ministry of Defence and the chief of the defence staff to draw up the plans in coordination with Britain's Nato allies and report back to him within days. A no-fly zone would be designed principally to prevent attacks on Libyan people by the Gaddafi regime – mainly by his helicopter gun ships. Cameron suggested the UK might even consider arming the Libyan opposition forces if Tripoli used more violence to crush demonstrations. READ MORE


Libya Wages Counterattack Against Rebels on 3 Fronts

Kareem Fahim and David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times

28 February 2011

The attacks by Qaddafi's troops on an oil refinery in central Libya and on cities on either side of the country unsettled rebel leaders — who earlier had claimed they were close to liberating the country — and showed that despite defections by the military, the government still possessed powerful assets, including fighter pilots willing to bomb Libyan cities. READ MORE


World Tells Qaddafi His Time Is Up

By Ian Black, Guardian UK

28 February 11

Muammar Gaddafi is running out of options and friends as international action to pressure him into surrendering gathers momentum, with Russia and China joining the west in backing calls to prosecute him for war crimes.

Britain said it was revoking the diplomatic immunity of the Libyan leader and his family, including his high-profile son Saif al-Islam, who has had close links with the UK. David Cameron echoed Barack Obama in calling on him to go. The PM said: "All of this sends a clear message to this regime: it is time for Colonel Gaddafi to go and to go now. There is no future for Libya that includes him." READ MORE


Uprising Spreads Further Across Libya


Yemen To Declare "Unity Government"

Al Jazeera

28 February 2011

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, is to announce a government of national unity "within the next 24 hours", government sources have told Al Jazeera. The move comes as thousands more protesters joined demonstrations against Saleh's 32-year rule on Monday. Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Yemen, said: "It's a last ditch effort to try and appease the mounting tension here in the capital and across the country. READ MORE


Battle for Libya

By Amy Davidson, The New Yorker

27 February 11

"Life without green banners hoisted is useless," Muammar Qaddafi said today, as he stood on the ramparts in Tripoli's old city, wearing a fur-lined hat and looking down at Green Square. He is acting as though he believes those words - as if he does not much value life. He was speaking to a crowd of his supporters, who were, indeed, hoisting green banners, but elsewhere in Tripoli people were being killed in the street. "They just started shooting people. People are being killed by snipers but I don't know how many are dead," Ali, a man in Tripoli who spoke to Reuters by phone, said. There is a battle going on for the capital, as there is for much of the country. Qaddafi said that Libyans would defeat all foreigners, as they had defeated the Italians; does he understand that it is Libyans, who now are trying to defeat him? He may not care: "Dance and sing! Joy and rejoice!" he said. (A good part of Libya seems to either be singing or shooting at the moment - dangerous combination.) And: "Libya will become a hell." READ MORE


Beijing Flooded With Security Before Second 'Jasmine' Protest

By Jo Ling Kent, CNN

27 February 11

For the second weekend in a row, anonymous calls by organizers for a pro-democracy demonstration in Beijing were overshadowed by heavy security presence.

Hundreds of Chinese police officers along with more than 120 vehicles flooded Beijing's central pedestrian shopping area, Wangfujing, around the site of a second attempted "jasmine" rally inspired by pro-democracy protests in Tunisia. There was no sign of protest as the police deployed unusual tactics to prevent demonstrations.

At least three foreign press photographers at the scene were reportedly beaten by police officers and detained. Other foreign journalists, including CNN, were manhandled, detained and escorted away from the site. READ MORE


Defiant Gaddafi Confined to Tripoli

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

27 February 11

As more cities fall into the hands of the pro-democracy protesters, Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, is hanging on to the capital where security forces loyal to him seem to have a firm hold, even amid reports of sporadic gunfire.

On Sunday, protesters had taken control of the city of Zawiyah, 50km from Tripoli, further shrinking the control of Gaddafi's government after the opposition took over most of the eastern part of the country. However, tanks were surrounding Zawiyahand locals feared an imminent raid by pro-Gaddafi forces.

An AFP reporter arriving in Nalut, 24km west of Tripoli, found that Gaddafi's security forces had entirely disappeared from the streets. READ MORE


Yemen's Saleh Vows to Stay in Power


Libyan Rebels Gear for Fight in City Near Capital

By Maggie Michael, Associated Press

27 February 11

Hundreds of armed anti-government forces backed by rebel troops who control the city closest to the capital Tripoli prepared Sunday to repel an expected offensive by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi surrounding Zawiya.

The Gadhafi regime, eager to show foreign reporters that the country is calm and under their control, took visiting journalists to Zawiya, 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli. But an Associated Press reporter on the tour confirmed the anti-government rebels are in control of the center of the city of 200,000. They have army tanks and anti-aircraft guns mounted on pickup trucks deployed.

On the outskirts of the city, however, they are surrounded by pro-Gadhafi forces, also backed by tanks and anti-aircraft guns. READ MORE


Major Yemen Tribal Figure Joins Protests

Gaddafi Clings to Tripoli

By Al Jazeera English

27 February 11

As more cities fall into the hands of the pro-democracy protesters, Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, is hanging on to the capital where security forces loyal to him seem to have a firm hold, even amid reports of sporadic gunfire.

On Sunday, protesters had reportedly taken over the towns of Misurata and Zawiyah, further shrinking the control of Gaddafi's government. However, tanks were surrounding Zawiyah, 50km from Tripoli, and locals feared an imminent raid by pro-Gaddafi forces.

With much of the oil-producing regions, including the second city of Benghazi, in protesters' hands, the opposition is rapidly gearing up for a showdown in Tripoli. READ MORE


Libyan Chaos Stirs Global Panic Over Oil Supplies

By Alan Clendenning, AP Business Writer

27 February 11

Libya's oil industry is in chaos - and there's no telling when that will end.

Armed men loot equipment from oil field installations. British commandos execute secret raids in the Libyan desert to rescue stranded oil workers as security disintegrates rapidly in remote camps.

Libyan port workers, frightened of being caught up in Moammar Gadhafi's violent crackdown on protesters, fail to show up for work, leaving empty tankers floating around the Mediterranean Sea waiting to load crude. READ MORE


Deaths in Oman Protests

By Al Jazeera English

27 February 11

At least two people have been killed in an industrial town in Oman, after police fired rubber bullets on anti-government protesters. The military moved in to secure an area in the town of Sohar on Sunday where demonstrators had gathered to demand political reforms, according to witnesses reported by the Reuters news agency.

"Two were killed after being shot with rubber bullets as protesters attempted to storm a police station," a security official said requesting anonymity. State news agency ONA confirmed that there had been casualties in Sohar, saying that police and anti-riot forces had clashed with demonstrators.

"Police and anti-riot squads confronted this group of wreckers in a bid to protect people and their properties, which caused casualties," it said. Witnesses said a police station and a government building were set on fire. READ MORE

Libya: Tripoli Residents Say Civilians Being Armed

By Maggie Michael and Ben Hubbard, Associated Press

26 February 11

The embattled regime of Moammar Gadhafi is arming civilian supporters to set up checkpoints and roving patrols around the Libyan capital to control movement and quash dissent, residents said Saturday.

The reports came a day after protesters demanding Gadhafi's ouster came under heavy gunfire by pro-regime militiamen trying to stop the first significant anti-government marches in days in Tripoli.

Gadhafi, speaking from the ramparts of a historic Tripoli fort on Friday, told supporters to prepare to defend the nation as he faced the biggest challenge to his 42-year rule. "At the suitable time, we will open the arms depot so all Libyans and tribes become armed, so that Libya becomes red with fire," he said. READ MORE


Egypt's Protest Dispersed by Force

By Al Jazeera English

26 February 11

The Egyptian army has used force to disperse activists gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand the removal of Hosni Mubarak loyalists from the interim cabinet.

Egyptian soldiers fired in the air and used batons in the early hours of Saturday to disperse the crowd, the Reuters news agency reported.

Demonstrators had also gathered in front of the parliament building in Cairo, where police beat protesters and used tasers to suppress the crowds, an Al Jazeera producer in the capital reported. READ MORE


Pro-Reform Protests in Vietnam


Shi'ite Dissident Returns to Bahrain From Exile

By Frederik Richter, Reuters

26 February 11

A hardline Shi'ite dissident flew home to Bahrain from exile on Saturday to join an opposition movement demanding that the island kingdom's Sunni ruling family accept a more democratic system.

"We want a real constitution," Hassan Mushaimaa told reporters at the airport. "They've promised us (one) before and then did whatever they wanted to."

"I'm here to see what are the demands of the people at the square and sit with them and talk to them," he said, referring to anti-government protesters camped in Manama's Pearl Square. READ MORE


Tunisia Sets Poll Date Amid Turmoil

By Al Jazeera English

25 February 11

Tunisia's transitional government has said it will hold elections by mid-July at the latest, the official TAP news agency has said, quoting a cabinet statement.

The government "has decided that consultations with different political parties should not exceed mid-March ... Elections will be organised at the latest in mid-July 2011", the statement on Friday said.

The announcement came as tens of thousands of protesters rallied on Friday to demand the resignation of Mohamed Ghannouchi's, the prime minister, transitional government set up after last month's ousting of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the country's former president. READ MORE


Protesters Hit by Hail of Gunfire in Libya March

By Paul Schemm and Bassem Mroue, Associated Press

25 February 11

Protesters demanding Moammar Gadhafi's ouster came under a hail of bullets Friday when pro-regime militiamen opened fire to stop the first significant anti-government marches in days in the Libyan capital. The Libyan leader, speaking from the ramparts of a historic Tripoli fort, told supporters to prepare to defend the nation.

Witnesses reported multiple deaths from gunmen on rooftops and in the streets shooting at crowds with automatic weapons and even an anti-aircraft gun.

"It was really like we are dogs," one man who was marching from Tripoli's eastern Tajoura district told The Associated Press. He added that many people were shot in the head, with seven people within 10 yards (meters) of him cut down in the first wave. READ MORE


Gaddafi Addresses Tripoli Crowd


Conflicting Versions of Events in Libya


6 Killed as Iraqis Protest in 'Day of Rage'

By Sinan Salaheddin, Associated Press

25 February 11

Thousands marched on government buildings and clashed with security forces in cities across Iraq on Friday, in the largest and most violent anti-government protests here since political unrest began spreading in the Arab world several weeks ago.

In two northern Iraqi cities, security forces trying to push back crowds opened fire, killing six demonstrators. In the capital of Baghdad, demonstrators knocked down blast walls, threw rocks and scuffled with club-wielding troops.

The protests, billed as a "Day of Rage, were fueled by anger over corruption, chronic unemployment and shoddy public services. "We want a good life like human beings, not like animals," said Khalil Ibrahim, 44, one of about 3,000 protesters in the capital Baghdad. READ MORE

Protests Grow in Yemen as Bomb Boosts Tension

By AP, AFP, The Wall Street Journal

25 February 11

A mine placed on the route of an anti-government protest has exploded prematurely, killing one and injuring two while raising tensions further in Yemen.

The explosion occurred in Lawder, a southern town known for anti-government feeling. No group claimed responsibility.

The blast came a day after Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered police to protect demonstrators after two were killed on Wednesday in Sanaa, the capital. Recent protests in the city have been relatively peaceful, despite occasional conflict between pro- and anti-government demonstrators hurling rocks and firing assault rifles. READ MORE


Gadhafi Militia Open Fire on Libya Protesters

By Paul Schemm and Bassem Mroue, Associated Press

25 February 11

Militias loyal to Moammar Gadhafi opened fire Friday trying to break up marches by regime opponents defying a fierce clampdown to hold their first major protest in the Libyan capital Tripoli in days. Across rebellious cities in the east, tens of thousands held rallies in support of the Tripoli protesters.

Protesters chanting for Gadhafi's ouster streamed out of mosques near downtown Tripoli's Green Square and other districts after prayers, and they were confronted by troops and militiamen who opened fire, said several witnesses. Gunmen on rooftops in streets near the square shot down on marchers, they said.

One witness reported seeing three protesters killed in the Souq al-Jomaa area near the square, and another reported a fourth death in another district, Fashloum. The reports could not be immediately confirmed. READ MORE


Post-Uprising Tunisia Still Struggling


Robert Fisk With the First Dispatch From Tripoli - A City In the Shadow of Death

By Robert Fisk, The Independent UK

24 February 11

Up to 15,000 men, women and children besieged Tripoli's international airport last night, shouting and screaming for seats on the few airliners still prepared to fly to Muammar Gaddafi's rump state, paying Libyan police bribe after bribe to reach the ticket desks in a rain-soaked mob of hungry, desperate families. Many were trampled as Libyan security men savagely beat those who pushed their way to the front. READ MORE


Qaddafi Strikes Back as Rebels Close In on Libyan Capital

By Kareem Fahim and David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

24 February 11

Thousands of mercenary and other forces struck back at a tightening circle of rebellions around the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday, trying to fend off an uprising against the 40-year rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who blamed the revolt on “hallucinogenic” drugs and Osama bin Laden. READ MORE


On the Line With Libya

By Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times

24 February 11

By telephone, I reached a family in Tripoli, Libya, with deep roots in the armed forces there, and members of the family offered some insight into what we should do to help nudge Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from power. READ MORE


Rebels Tighten Grip on Libya as
Western Cities Fall

By Alexander Dziadosz, Reuters

24 February 11

Muammar Gaddafi was struggling to hold on to power in Libya Thursday as rebels extended their territory by seizing important towns in the west of the country.

The opposition already control major centers in the east, including the regional capital Benghazi, and reports that the towns of Misrata and Zuara in the west have also fallen, brought the tide of rebellion ever closer to the capital.

Anti-government militias are in control of Zuara, about 120 km (75 miles) west of Tripoli, fleeing Egyptian construction workers who crossed into Tunisia told Reuters Thursday. There was no sign of police or military and the town was controlled by "popular committees" armed with automatic weapons. READ MORE


Eyewitness Account:
The Battle for Gaddafi's Capital

By Francesca Spinoila, TIME

24 February 11

On Tuesday, Feb. 22, I woke up to the scrap-metal sound of a Kalashnikov outside my window. I looked at the clock. It was four in the morning. For three years, I lived in Libya as the only accredited western journalist in the country. By Wednesday, I would leave a city that was no longer itself.

This is how it all began to change. The news of the Feb. 15 uprising in Benghazi and Cyrenaica, hundreds of miles to the east, had trickled into the capital - as did accounts of the regime's attempts to crush it. We journalists have always been under tight control in Libya. But just a few days before the uprising in Tripoli began, it got a little tighter. I had been taken in by plainclothes security forces - a kind of warning. They blocked my cell phone number and did the same to three other colleagues. READ MORE

More Libyan Cities Fall to the Opposition


Gadhafi's Power Wavers as Libya Revolt Spreads

By Paul Schemm and Maggie Michael, Associated Pres

23 February 11

The scope of Moammar Gadhafi's control was whittled away Wednesday as major Libyan cities and towns closer to the capital fell to the rebellion against his rule. In the east, now all but broken away, the opposition vowed to "liberate" Tripoli, where the Libyan leader is holed up with a force of militiamen roaming the streets and tanks guarding the outskirts.

In a further sign of Gadhafi's faltering hold, two air force pilots - one from the leader's own tribe - parachuted out of their warplane and let it crash into the eastern Libyan desert rather than follow orders to bomb an opposition-held city. READ MORE


Libyan Opposition Reportedly Seizes City of Misurata

Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times

The renewed violence came as opposition forces reportedly seized control of Misurata, about 75 miles west of Tripoli. Witnesses said that crowds were honking horns and waving flags from the monarchy that Kadafi overthrew in a military coup in 1969.

Two Libyan air force pilots parachuted from their Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet and let it crash rather than carry out orders to bomb opposition-held Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, the website Quryna reported, citing an unidentified officer in the air force control room. READ MORE


Qaddafi Vows No Mercy as Chaos Grows

Bob Drogin and Raja Abdulrahim, Los Angeles Times

Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi offered no concessions to protesters who have shaken his regime by capturing several major cities, denouncing them as drunkards, terrorists and 'drug-fueled mice' who should be executed.

But Kadafi's tough 75-minute nationwide speech on Tuesday may not save a regime that after four decades in power seemed to be quickly disintegrating. With violence flaring in city after city, and key defections from his inner circle, he appeared out of touch and increasingly out of control."

In the speech, Kadafi praised one of his closest and most powerful aides, Interior Secretary and army Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis. Several hours later, however, Younis made clear in his own televised statement that he had joined the opposition, urging "all the armed forces to be at the service of the people ... to help them achieve victory." READ MORE


Defiant Qaddafi Vows to 'Fight On'


Yemen Rallies After Demonstrators Killed in Clashes

Amhed Al-Haj, Associated Press

Thousands streamed into a square in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Wednesday, trying to strengthen the hold of anti-government protesters after club-wielding backers of President Ali Abdullah Saleh tried to drive them out. One person was killed and at least 12 injured in the clashes late Tuesday near Sanaa University, medics said. A local human rights group gave a higher toll, saying two people were killed and 18 hurt. READ MORE


Qaddafi's Last Refuge, Fear, Is Collapsing

Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

"Kadafi's biggest mistake was that he built his whole regime on pure fear," said Omar Amer, a member of the Libyan Youth Movement, a protest group that spreads its message through Facebook. "He totally abandoned civilizing Libya. He neglected education and development projects. He left the majority of his people in the dark ages and built his might on fear through torturing and killing political dissidents in public."

"But the fear that Kadafi built his empire with is gone, and that was his last shelter," Amer added. READ MORE


Qaddafi's Bizarre Statement

Qaddafi's Grip Falters as His Forces Take On Protesters

David D. Kirkpatrick and Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

Libya appeared to slip further from the grip of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, as opposition forces in the east armed themselves and moved to consolidate control of the region.

A growing number of Libyan embassies around the world, including in neighboring Tunisia, have raised the country's pre-Qaddafi flag - now considered the banner of the revolt - and many diplomats, including Libya's ambassador to the United States, said they had resigned to protest the bloody crackdown. READ MORE


Libya's UN Diplomats Break With Qaddafi

Colin Moynihan, The New York Times

Members of Libya's mission to the United Nations publicly repudiated Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Monday, calling him a genocidal war criminal responsible for mass shootings of demonstrators protesting against his four decades in power. They called upon him to resign.

The repudiation, led by Libya's deputy permanent representative at a news conference at the mission’s headquarters in New York, amounted to the most high-profile defection of Libyan diplomats in the anti-Qaddafi uprising that has convulsed Libya over the past week. READ MORE


Libyan UN Deputy Ambassador Speaks Out


Libya: Colonels Defected to Malta Rather Than Bomb Protesters

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

The pilots of two Libyan military jets that landed in Malta on Monday are "senior colonels" who were ordered to bomb protesters, Al Jazeera satellite network reports. The colonels say they refused to bomb protesters demonstrating against Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi and instead defected to Malta, according to Al Jazeera reporter Karl Stagno-Novarra in Malta.

The pilots reportedly told Maltese officials they were based in Tripoli and ordered to attack protesters in Benghazi. After seeing fellow pilots begin bombing, the colonels changed course and headed for Malta, according to Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera has been relaying eyewitness reports of airstrikes Monday, but cautioned that the bombings could not be verified. Clashes in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Monday left 160 dead, Al Arabiya network quoted eyewitnesses as saying Monday. READ MORE


Warplanes and Militia Fire on Protesters in Libyan Capital

David D. Kirkpatrick and Mona El-Naggar, The New York Times

The faltering government of the Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi struck back at mounting protests against his 40-year rule, as helicopters and warplanes besieged parts of the capital Monday, according to witnesses and news reports from Tripoli.

The escalation of the conflict came after Colonel Qaddafi's security forces had earlier in the day retreated to a few buildings in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, fires burned unchecked, and senior government officials and diplomats announced defections. The country's second-largest city remained under the control of protesters. READ MORE


Revolution in Libya


Libya Protests Spread as Barrier of Fear Crumbles

Dan Murphy, The Christian Science Monitor

Saif al-Islam, a son of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, appeared on Libyan state television late last night with a simple mission: Restore the fear. He failed.

Reports today from the capital, Tripoli, said police stations were burned, and there were unconfirmed reports that protesters had stormed the State Television building that broadcast Islam’s address. Al Jazeera Arabic reported that most of the police in Benghazi, a Mediterranean city to the east of Tripoli that has been the heart of the revolt, are now siding with the protesters. READ MORE


Libya Spirals Toward Civil War

By Maggie Michael and Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press

Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi on Monday, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. Moammar Gadhafi's son vowed that his father and security forces would fight "until the last bullet."

Protesters demanding Gadhafi's ouster planed new marches in the capital's main Green Square and at the leader's residence for Monday evening. That was likely to bring a new round of violence after a similar march the night before prompted clashes that lasted till dawn, with witnesses reporting snipers opening fire on protesters and Gadhafi supporters racing through crowds in trucks and cars, firing automatic weapons and running people over. READ MORE


Gaddafi's Government Cracking as Demonstrators Seize Benghazi


Protesters out on the streets of Tripoli late on Sunday were met by security forces using live ammunition and tear gas. Benghazi, the country's second city, now appears to be largely under the control of protesters. But Col Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, has warned that civil war could ignite.

With Tripoli in ferment, the government has already lost control of much of the east of the country, says the BBC's Jon Leyne in neighbouring Egypt. It is beginning to look like just a matter of time before Col Gaddafi's rule finally collapses, adds our correspondent. However Libyans are worried about how much more violence lies in store in the days ahead. READ MORE

Protesters Die as Crackdown in Libya Intensifies

Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press

Security forces loyal to Libya's Moammar Gadhafi unleashed heavy gunfire Sunday on thousands marching in a rebellious eastern city, cutting down mourners trying to bury victims in a bloody cycle of violence that has killed more than 200 people in the fiercest crackdown on the uprisings in the Arab world.

Protests were even reported to have spread to downtown Tripoli and a coastal city only about 45 miles (about 70 kilometers) to the west of the capital. In Benghazi, site of the funeral clashes, pro-Gadhafi forces were chased from a presidential compound by other troops sympathetic to the anti-government demonstrators, a witness said. READ MORE


Bahrain Twitter Feed:!/search?q=%23Bahrain


Death Toll Rises in Libyan Unrest


Yemen President Struggles to Quell Protests

Ahmed Al-Haj, Associated Press

Sanaa, Yemen - Yemen's embattled president on Sunday sought a way out of the political crisis gripping his impoverished Arab nation, offering to oversee a dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition to defuse the standoff with protesters demanding his ouster.

The offer by the US-backed Ali Abdullah Saleh - which opposition groups swiftly rejected - came as protests calling for his ouster continued in at least four cities around the country for the 11th straight day.

A 17-year-old demonstrator was killed Sunday evening in the port city of Aden when the army opened fire to disperse a march there, bringing the death toll to nine since the protests began. READ MORE


Unrest Spreads Across Yemen


More Than 200 Feared Dead in Libya Protest Crackdown

Guardian UK and Contributors

Witness describes 'massacre' as forces loyal to Gaddafi shoot unarmed protesters in Benghazi. READ MORE


Palestinians Plan 'Day of Rage' After US
Vetoes Israeli Settlements Resolution

Harriet Sherwood, Guardian UK

Palestinians are planning a "day of rage" on Friday in response to the US wielding its veto against a UN security council resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

The US decision to use its veto has sparked a furious reaction in the West Bank and Gaza.

Anti-US rallies took place in the West Bank towns of Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Jenin this weekend following the 14-1 vote on the resolution, in which the US stood alone against the rest of the security council, including Britain, Germany and France. It voted in contradiction of its own policy. READ MORE

Libyan Forces Fight Benghazi Protesters


Tripoli - At least 20 protesters were killed overnight in the Libyan city of Benghazi, a rights watchdog said on Sunday, after witnesses said security forces fired heavy weapons at civilians from a fortified compound.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said the latest night of violence took the death toll from four days of clashes centred on Benghazi and surrounding towns beyond 100.

The unrest, the worst in Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's four decades in power, started as a series of protests inspired by popular revolts in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia, but was met by a fierce response. READ MORE


Protesters Take Bahrain Square as Forces Leave

Michael Slackman, The New York Times

Manama, Bahrain - Thousands of jubilant protesters surged back into the symbolic heart of Bahrain on Saturday as the government withdrew its security forces, calling for calm after days of violent crackdowns.

It was a remarkable turn after a week of protests that had shifted by the hour between joy and fear, euphoric surges of people power followed by bloody military crackdowns, as the monarchy struggled to calibrate a response to an uprising whose counterparts have toppled other governments in the region.

"All Bahrain is happy today," said Jasim al-Haiki, 24, as he cheered the crowds in the central Pearl Square, aflutter with Bahraini flags. "These are Bahrainis. They do what they say they will do!" READ MORE


Algerian Police Break Up Crowd at
Pro-Reform Rally


Libya Forces 'Open Fire' at Funeral

Al Jazeera English

Libyan security forces have reportedly opened fire at a funeral in the eastern city of Benghazi, killing at least 15 people and injuring scores more as protests against Muammar Gaddafi, the country's long-time ruler, continued.

The victims on Saturday were mourning the loss of protesters who had been killed during anti-government demonstrations in the city during the past week, witnesses said, bringing the death toll to more than 100 in six days of unrest, according to opposition groups. READ MORE


Is Morocco Next?


What the February 20 Protests Tell Us About Morocco

Laila Lalami, The Nation

With the ouster of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, the Arab world has erupted in popular protests in favor of democracy and dignity. Morocco, long considered one of the most stable Arab countries, is not immune to this regional trend. Inspired by the cases of Tunisia and Egypt, a group of young activists are using social media to spread the word about a protest in Casablanca on February 20. A video they have made to promote the protests has already gone viral. It features thirteen young Moroccan men and women, speaking in their native Arabic or Berber. "I am Moroccan and I will take part in the protest on February 20," they all say, and then go on to explain their reasons for marching: freedom, equality, better living standards, education, labor rights, minority rights and so on.

The February 20 movement was started by a group calling itself Democracy and Freedom Now. Their demands include constitutional reforms, the dissolution of the present parliament, the creation of a temporary transitional government, an independent judiciary, accountability for elected officials, language rights for Berber speakers and the release of all political prisoners. Democracy and Freedom Now was soon joined by a loose coalition of cyber-activists, traditional lefties, Islamists and twenty human rights organizations, including the Moroccan Association of Human Rights and Amnesty Morocco. READ MORE


Protesters Retake Square in Bahrain While Libya and Yemen Try to Suppress Protests

Michael Slackman and Jack Healy, The New York Times

Protesters in Bahrain fought past riot policemen who sprayed them with tear gas and shot at them with rubber bullets Saturday, retaking a central square and leading the country's crown prince to say he had ordered the army out of the area. The announcement set off a wave of jubilation among the thousands of protesters in Pearl Square, the heart of the country's uprising, and added new pressures for shaken governments in Libya, Algeria and Yemen as they made new moves to stifle protests.

The withdrawal of security forces in Bahrain was a victory for the country's main Shiite opposition bloc, which had rejected a call to negotiate from Bahrain's Sunni monarch until the authorities pulled the military off the streets. READ MORE


US Balancing Act on Bahrain

Bahrain, Libya and Yemen Try to Crush Protests With Violence

Ian Black and Martin Chulov, The Guardian UK

Violence in Libya and Bahrain has claimed scores of lives and left many more injured as the two Arab countries were united by popular protests that continue to shake the status quo and sound alarm bells across the region and the world.

A week after Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, was forced to stand down, dozens of Libyans were reported killed by Muammar Gaddafi's security forces. Meanwhile, Bahraini troops shot dead at least one protester and wounded 50 others after mourners buried four people who were killed on Thursday in the worst mass unrest the western-backed Gulf state has ever seen. READ MORE


Violence Grips Bahrain, Libya and Yemen


Egyptians Mass in Cairo to Mark Mubarak Fall

Associated Press

Egyptians thronged again to Tahrir Square on Friday, one week after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, in a sun-splashed victory celebration of dancing, singing and flag-waving — but also serious resolve to pressure the country's military rulers to implement reform.

The military allowed — even encouraged — the celebrations. But it gave its strongest warning yet against a wave of labor strikes that erupted in parallel with the massive anti-government political protests and have hit Egypt's economy hard the past week. In a statement, the military said it would no longer allow "illegal" demonstrations that stop production and will take action against them. READ MORE


Fresh Protests Hit Iraqi Cities

Al Jazeera

Violent protests have taken place at various locations in Iraq, with anti-government protesters rallying against corruption, poor basic services and high unemployment. In Basra, the country's second largest city, about 1,000 people rallied on Friday, demanding better service delivery from the government, jobs and improved pensions.They called for the provincial governor to resign, and blocked a bridge for an hour. Protesters shouted slogans saying that while Friday's protests would be peaceful, ones held in the future may not be."We're living in miserable conditions, no electricity, dirty, muddy streets. We have to make changes. We should not be silent," said Qais Jabbar, one of the protesters.

On Thursday, one person was killed during protests in the southern city of Kut. Forty-seven others were injured in the protests, prompting New York-based Human Rights Watch to call for an "independent and transparent investigation". Protests were also held on Friday in the southern city of Nasiriyah and elsewhere in the country. READ MORE

US Faces New Test Over Bahrain Violence

Jim Lobe, IPS

Increased polarisation and the risk of further violence in Bahrain comes at a particularly bad time for Washington, which is struggling to cope with the unprecedented turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East that has already resulted in the ouster of two long-time autocratic U.S. allies – in Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – in just the past month.

The region's unrest has posed a very difficult challenge to Obama who, according to the New York Times, ordered his advisers last August to produce a secret report on the prospects for popular revolt against autocratic governments throughout the Middle East, including Bahrain, Yemen, and other key countries, and how to encourage those regimes to implement reforms in time to avoid any explosions. READ MORE


Security Forces in Bahrain Fire on Mourners and Journalists

Michael Slackman and Mark Landler, The New York Times

Government forces opened fire on hundreds of mourners marching toward Pearl Square Friday, sending people running away in panic amid the boom of concussion grenades. But even as the people fled, at least one helicopter sprayed fire on them and a witness reported seeing mourners crumpling to the ground.

Minutes after the first shots were fired, forces in a helicopter that had been shooting at the crowds, opened fire at a Western reporter and videographer who were filming a sequence on the latest violence. READ MORE


Battle Lines Harden Across the Mideast as Rulers Dig In

Jack Healy and J. David Goodman, The New York Times

Security forces and government supporters employed an escalating panoply of violent force - from tear gas and batons to shotguns and grenades - in pitched street battles with anti-government protesters in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen on Friday.

The severity of a Libyan crackdown on Thursday's so-called "Day of Rage" began to emerge Friday when a human rights advocacy group said 24 people had been killed by gunfire and news reports said further clashes with security were feared at the funerals for the dead. READ MORE


Libya's Deadly "Day of Rage"


Violent Response to Bahrain Protest

WARNING: This video contains images that some viewers may find disturbing. 02/17/11


Bahrain Army in Charge After Police Shoot Protesters

Michele Slackman, The New York Times

Manama, Bahrain - The army took control of this city on Thursday, except at the main hospital, where thousands of people gathered screaming, crying, collapsing in grief, just hours after the police opened fired with birdshot, rubber bullets and tear gas on pro-democracy demonstrators camped in Pearl Square.

As the army asserted control of the streets with tanks and heavily armed soldiers, the once peaceful protesters were transformed into a mob of angry mourners chanting slogans like "death to the king," while the opposition withdrew from the Parliament and demanded that the government step down. READ MORE


Tunisia. Egypt. Bahrain?

Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times

Editor's Note: Nicholas Kristof tweeted from Bahrain: "King Hamad of Bahrain will never regain credibility after attacking peaceful protesters as they slept. Blood is forever on his hands." Kristof also notes that members of the royal family are spreading rumors about him: "Example of #Bahrain govt propaganda: @alibinkhalifa of royal family tweeted that I am 'supporting outlaws with weapons.'"!/nickkristof -- CW/RSN

The gleaming banking center of Bahrain, one of those family-run autocratic Arab states that count as American allies, has become the latest reminder that authoritarian regimes are slow learners.

Bahrain is another Middle East domino wobbled by an angry youth - and it has struck back with volleys of tear gas, rubber bullets and even buckshot at completely peaceful protesters. In the early-morning hours on Thursday here in the Bahrain capital, it used deadly force to clear the throngs of pro-democracy protesters who had turned Pearl Square in the center of the city into a local version of Tahrir Square in Cairo. This was the last spasm of brutality from a regime that has handled protests with an exceptionally heavy hand - and like the previous crackdowns, this will further undermine the legitimacy of the government. READ MORE


The Back Story on Iran's Clashes

Robert Parry, Consortium News

Iranian parliamentarians presented an ugly scene on Tuesday with raucous chants calling for the executions of two opposition leaders - and the US news media was quick to denounce the Iranian government, but there is a complex history that Americans aren't getting. READ MORE


Cables Illuminate US Relations With Bahrain, Potential for Unrest

Foreign Policy

The United States and Bahrain are close allies. In fact, according to an April 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable, one of several released by WikiLeaks this week, the two countries have "about as good a bilateral relationship as anywhere." The cables recount a number of interesting details, particularly in light of ongoing unrest there this week, about the government's leadership, U.S. interests in Bahrain and the region, and about the backstory of sectarian tensions between a ruling Sunni government and a large underclass Shiite majority.

U.S. interests in Bahrain, according to the cables, center around two issue: Iran and Iraq. And the two are related. The April 2008 cables notes that Bahrain's "number-one security concern is Iran. They support [the U.S.] tough stand toward Tehran." The cables claim that Bahrain worked with the U.S. government to monitor financial transactions from Iran. And perhaps even more importantly, Manama expressed interest in creating a broader alliance of countries in the Gulf and the region to resist Iran, the cables claim. And here's where Iraq comes in, according to a 2008 cable: "Our point that reintegrating Iraq into the Arab fold is critical to limiting Iranian influence has had real resonance with the Bahraini leadership."READ MORE

Four Dead as Riot Police Storm Protest Camp in Bahrain

Martin Chulov, Gurdian UK

At least four people have been killed in an early-morning raid by security forces on Pearl Square, the focal point of anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain, sparking street battles with riot police. Armored trucks have been seen in central Manama and key roads are blocked by security forces. The crackdown follows a dramatic and violent turn in three days of protests calling for widespread reform within Bahrain's ruling minority. Dozens of wounded protesters were being taken to hospitals across the city on Thursday morning. READ MORE


Police Launch "Brutal" Operation in Bahrain


'Day of Rage' Kicks Off in Libya

Al Jazeera

Protesters in Libya have defied a security crackdown and taken to the streets in four cities for a "day of rage," inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, reports say. Several hundred supporters of Muammar Gaddafi, the country's longtime leader, have also reportedly gathered in the capital on Thursday to counter online calls for anti-government protests. New York-based Human Rights Watch said that Libyan authorities had detained 14 activists, writers and protesters who had been preparing the anti-government protests. READ MORE


Deposing Dictators is Just the start of a Middle East transformation

Soumaya Ghannoushi, Guardian UK

Wherever you go around Tunis, you see people demonstrating – at the airport, in front of the post office, schools, ministries, factories: simply everywhere. Protests and pickets are a feature of daily life. People sit in cafes drinking and chatting alongside demonstrators shouting slogans for change. Even small children have turned into political analysts, and are overheard mocking the speeches of Ben Ali, the deposed dictator. I saw one demonstration quietly split in two to allow the tram to pass by, reassembling promptly after its departure. Tunisians seem to have stumbled on the magical power of street protest, and are unwilling to relinquish it. READ MORE


Bahrain Protesters Look to Emulate Egypt Revolt


Egyptians Defy Military Rulers With More Protests

Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press

Egyptians staged protests and strikes Wednesday over a host of grievances from paltry wages to toxic waste dumping, defying the second warning in three days from the nation's military rulers to halt all labor unrest at a time when the economy is staggering. READ MORE


Bahrain Protesters Hold Ground

Al Jazeera

Anti-government protesters are continuing to occupy a roundabout in Manama, Bahrain's capital, after two days of violent clashes left at least two demonstrators dead. The protesters, pressing for a host of demands including political reforms and better human rights in the kingdom, are refusing to disperse, despite a rare apology from the king over the deaths in police firing. READ MORE


Protesters Clash With Police in Libya


Anti-Government Protests Spread to Libya

Maggie Michael, Associated Press

Hundreds of Libyans calling for the government's ouster clashed with security forces early Wednesday in the country's second-largest city as Egypt-inspired unrest spread to the country long ruled by Moammar Gadhafi. READ MORE

Protests in Yemen Intensify


Egyptian Army Hijacking Revolution?

Jack Shenker, Guardian UK

Egypt's revolution is in danger of being hijacked by the army, key political activists have warned, as concrete details of the country's democratic transition period were revealed for the first time.

The Guardian has learned that despite public pronouncements of faith in the military's intentions, elements of Egypt's fractured political opposition are deeply concerned about the army's unilateral declarations of reform and the apparent unwillingness of senior officers to open up sustained and transparent negotiations with those who helped organize the revolution. READ MORE


Iran Lawmakers Want Opposition Leaders Killed

Alan Cowell and Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times

A day after the most significant street protests in Iran since the end of the 2009 uprising there, members of the Iranian Parliament called on Tuesday for the two most prominent opposition leaders to be prosecuted and sentenced to death for stirring unrest.

The call came as confrontations between government authorities and protesters inspired by the Tunisia and Egypt revolutions continued to unfold elsewhere in the region, with violent clashes in Bahrain and Yemen. READ MORE


Unrest Grows in Bahrain as Police Kill a Second Protester

Ian Black, Guardian UK

More than 10,000 people were taking part in the funeral procession for Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima when police opened fire without warning as they chanted slogans calling for a new constitution, a democratically elected government and an end to anti-Shia discrimination in the Sunni-ruled island kingdom.

"The scene is just unbelievable," a witness told the Guardian. "There are thousands upon thousands on the road, there were definitely chants against the regime. The crowd was getting angrier and angrier. A lot of signs said they are peaceful, and this is what we get in return." READ MORE your social media marketing partner
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