Mideast protests at a glance

AP News
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Posted: Mar 04, 2011 12:05 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:

Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi fire tear gas and live ammunition to disperse protesters in Tripoli as a fierce crackdown that has terrorized parts of the capital the past week seemingly smothers attempts to revive demonstrations calling for the Libyan leader's ouster. Gadhafi's forces also make an intensified assault on Zawiya, the closest opposition-held city to Tripoli, killing at least 18 people, including the commander of the local rebel forces Hussein Darbouk, a colonel in Gadhafi's army who had defected. Rebel fighters attack a government force at the oil port of Ras Lanouf in central Libya, but the pro-Gadhafi forces appear to be holding their positions.

Ahead of the planned protests, Internet services appear to be halted completely. Renesys Corp., a U.S.-based company that maps the pathways of the Internet, says it hasn't been able to reach any websites inside Libya on Friday.

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YEMEN:

Soldiers open fire at anti-government protesters in northern Yemen, killing four people and wounding seven. Witnesses say the shootings in the town of Harf Sofyan occurred as soldiers tried to disperse thousands who took to the main street for Friday prayers. Tens of thousands also assemble amid tight security near Sanaa University in the capital to call for Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster. The main speaker during prayers at the university, Yahia Hussein al-Deilami, tells those gathered that "deposing a tyrant is a religious duty." Hundreds of thousands of protesters also demonstrate in Taiz, Hadramawt, Ibb and Hudaydah in what is dubbed as the "Friday of the national cohesion."

Several thousand government supporters stage counter demonstrations in the capital, urging the opposition to respond to the president's call for dialogue.

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BAHRAIN:

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators chanting slogans against the Sunni dynasty stream toward the headquarters of Bahrain's state television after sectarian clashes between Sunnis and the majority Shiites leading protests in the strategic Gulf nation.

The street fighting underscored the tensions building after nearly three weeks of unrest that has left the tiny island kingdom in a stalemate between the Sunni monarchy and Shiite-led demonstrators who claim widespread discrimination and demand a greater voice in the nation's affairs.

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EGYPT:

Egypt's prime minister-designate Essam Sharaf appears before thousands of demonstrators at a central Cairo square and promises to do everything he can to meet their demands for political change. He also pleads with them to turn their attention to "rebuilding" the country. Sharaf's government will serve in a caretaker capacity until parliamentary elections are held.

The Supreme Armed Forces Council that took control of the country from ousted President Hosni Mubarak says a referendum on constitutional changes to allow for competitive parliamentary and presidential elections will be held on March 19.

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JORDAN:

Political opponents amplify their calls for Jordan's new prime minister to resign and demand to be brought into a unity government to usher in swift reforms to open up the kingdom's politics. "Enough is enough, our patience has run out," shouts political independent Sufian Tal, reflecting the views of many among the 2,000 Jordanians who take to the streets of Amman.

The U.S.-allied King Abdullah II, who so far has not faced calls for his ouster, appointed a new prime minister and ordered him to implement some political changes, including a fairer election law. But protesters are also demanding that Abdullah give up the power to appoint the prime minister and the rest of the Cabinet.

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TUNISIA:

Tunisia's new premier says he will present a new Cabinet in coming days to help get beyond the renewed bout of violence in the North African country that led his predecessor to quit, and pull his country back from the "abyss."

Beji Caid-Essebsi's announcement is the latest step by Tunisia's interim leaders to stabilize the country after longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled amid protests in January _ sparking unrest across the Arab world.

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IRAQ:

Thousands of Iraqis rally in Baghdad and other cities in anti-government demonstrations despite security checkpoints and a vehicle ban that forces many to walk for hours to the heart of the capital. Most of the protests are peaceful, but police use water cannons against demonstrators in the southern city of Basra and beat some journalists covering the demonstrations. The protesters want improved government services, better pay and an end to corruption in Iraq.