Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

AP News
Posted: Mar 18, 2011 1:44 PM

Latest developments in the unrest sweeping the Arab world from North Africa to the Persian Gulf:


The regime of Moammar Gadhafi responds to a U.N.-authorized no-fly zone and the threat of military intervention by announcing an immediate cease-fire with the Libyan rebels seeking to oust him. But both the international community and the rebels remain skeptical as regime forces continue to strike at least two rebel-held towns.

Gadhafi has led harshest crackdown against pro-democracy activists throughout the region inspired by the popular uprisings that toppled dictators in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia.



Security forces open fire on tens of thousands of anti-government protesters flooding into a square in the capital, Sanaa, after prayers, killing at least 40 people and injuring hundreds. President Ali Abdullah Saleh declares a nationwide state of emergency.

Friday's protests were the largest yet _ and solicited the most violent response _ in the popular uprising that started last month.



Syrian security forces disperse protesters in two towns, state media report in what appeared to be the gravest unrest in years in one of the Mideast's most repressive states. Human rights activists also say security forces disperse about a dozen protesters calling for more freedoms in Damascus, the third small rally in the capital this week as authorities seek to squelch gatherings in inspired by those sweeping the Arab world.



Authorities in Bahrain demolish the huge white monument in Pearl Square where members of the tiny island kingdom's Shiite majority have protested to demand greater rights from the Sunni monarchy.

The unrest in Bahrain, which has killed at least 12 people, has sparked regional sectarian tensions. Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf states have sent troops, while Shiite Iran has backed the protesters and withdrawn its ambassador.



Thousands of protesters rally in mostly Shiite cities across Iraq to condemn what some call "sectarian attacks" by security forces in Bahrain against Shiite protesters.

The sending of troops to Bahrain by the Gulf's Sunni nations could worsen relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which views Iraq's Shiite-dominated government as an Iranian pawn.



A senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, urges Bahrain's majority Shiites to keep up their protests _ until death or victory _ against the Sunni monarchy. After prayers, thousands of Iranians rally against the Bahraini crackdown.

Bahraini and Iranian Shiites have no apparent direct links, but the tiny island kingdom figures strongly into larger regional questions. Persian Gulf leaders are concerned that political gains by Bahraini Shiites could give Iran a stepping stone to its archrival Saudi Arabia, and Tehran protested when Saudi troops and other Gulf forces moved into Bahrain.