Mideast protests at a glance

AP News
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Posted: Mar 03, 2011 1:02 PM
Mideast protests at a glance

A look at anti-government protests, political unrest and key developments in the Middle East on Thursday:

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LIBYA:

Rebels strengthen their hold on the strategic oil installation at Brega after repelling an attempt by loyalists of Moammar Gadhafi to retake it. International pressure on the Libyan leader increases as an international court begins investigating whether to charge him and his inner circle with crimes against humanity.

Government warplanes launch a new airstrike on the town, but no casualties are reported and pro-Gadhafi forces withdraw to another oil port, Ras Lanouf.

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YEMEN:

Yemeni opposition groups propose a plan to end the crisis that would involve embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down by the end of the year in a peaceful transition of power. Keeping up the pressure, tens of thousands of people protest in several cities, including the capital, Sanaa. Students at Sanaa University vow their protest won't "stop until the regime, and its corrupt symbols, fall."

A Yemeni human rights group says authorities have detained several police officers in the southern city of Aden because they refused to open fire on protesters.

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EGYPT:

The prime minister who had been appointed by ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigns, meeting a key demand of the opposition protest movement. The country's military rulers choose former Transport Minister Essam Sharaf to replace Ahmed Shafiq and ask him to form a new caretaker Cabinet to run the government throughout a transition back to civilian rule.

Youth groups had planned a large rally Friday to push for Shafiq to step down, but the demonstration now will be used to press other demands, including the dissolution of Mubarak's National Democratic Party and the hated State Security Agency.

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BAHRAIN:

The Shiite opposition groups in Bahrain seeking to loosen the Sunni monarchy's grip on power say they are ready to negotiate with the Gulf nation's rulers about political change after weeks of protests. The government confirms that its main negotiator, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has received the opposition's demands, expressing hope that dialogue will begin soon despite "substantial differences between the various groups and parties."

In Manama, Jeffrey Feltman, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, underlines Washington's "unwavering support" for the Gulf kingdom, praising the king's efforts to defuse tensions, but also urging the rulers to answer "the legitimate aspirations of the Bahraini people."

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JORDAN:

Jordan's Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit rejects opposition calls for stripping King Abdullah II of his powers and establishing a constitutional monarchy, telling lawmakers that such a move would violate the constitution. But he leaves the door open to some political reforms.

Jordanians, emboldened by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, have taken to the streets over the past two months to demand Abdullah relinquish some of his powers, including the right to appoint prime ministers. Muslim opposition groups have called for a constitutional monarchy that would leave the king as a nothing more than a figurehead.