A look at political unrest in the Middle East

AP News
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Posted: Mar 07, 2011 1:18 PM
A look at political unrest in the Middle East

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

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LIBYA:

Libyan warplanes launch airstrikes on opposition fighters regrouping at the oil port of Ras Lanouf on the Mediterranean coast, the second day of a harsh government counteroffensive to thwart a rebel advance toward Moammar Gadhafi's stronghold in the capital, Tripoli.

President Barack Obama says the U.S. and its NATO allies are still considering a military response to the violence and Britain and France are drafting a U.N. resolution that would establish a no-fly zone.

Libya appears to be sliding toward a civil war. The uprising is already longer and much bloodier than the relatively quick revolts that overthrew the longtime authoritarian leaders of neighboring Egypt and Tunisia.

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TUNISIA

Tunisia's prime minister names a new government and a much-hated police unit is disbanded. The dismantling of the State Security Department has been one of the demands of the pro-democracy activists who have kept up the pressure on the interim leadership after an uprising that ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January, which in turn sparked revolts around the Arab world.

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EGYPT:

Egypt's military rulers swear in a new Cabinet that includes new faces in key ministries, responding to protesters' demands that the new government be free of stalwarts of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The new lineup is expected to be met with the approval of the pro-reform groups that led the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to step down on Feb. 11.

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YEMEN:

Yemen's embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, calls for national dialogue in an attempt to quell escalating protests against his 32-year rule, as thousands of demonstrators again take to the streets to demand his ouster. The state news agency says the conference will be held Thursday and will include thousands of representatives from across Libya's political spectrum.

Yemen's opposition, however, swiftly rejected the call.

The unrest is the latest challenge to Saleh's weak, U.S.-allied government, which also faces threats from an al-Qaida offshoot, an armed rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the once-independent south.

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BAHRAIN:

Hundreds of members of the Gulf country's Shiite Muslim majority protest outside the U.S. Embassy to appeal for Washington to back their campaign for greater political freedom. The opposition supporters claim Washington is showing less support for the revolt in Bahrain than it did for the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that ousted the countries' presidents.

The protesters are staging daily marches in an effort to end what they say are the Sunni royal family's discriminatory policies and political persecution of Shiites.

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OMAN

Oman's ruler dissolves the office overseeing economic affairs in a concession to a key demand of protesters calling for more jobs and political openness. Sultan Qaboos bin Said also fires several government ministers as part of the third high-level reshuffle in the past 10 days attempting to quiet the protests.

Oman's unrest remains small compared with Gulf neighbor Bahrain, but Oman and Iran share authority over the crucial Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf, the route for 40 percent of the world's oil tanker traffic.