A look at the latest developments in political unrest across the Middle East on Wednesday:
Outgunned rebels retreat from the vital oil port of Ras Lanouf under heavy fire from ruler Moammar Gadhafi's forces, who close in on Brega, another oil depot. Rebels complain of lack of air support from NATO bombers. Uganda offers asylum to Gadhafi, but there is no indication that he is considering leaving Libya. Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Khoussa flies to London, where British government says he resigned. It appears he may have defected.
President Bashar Assad delivers a speech to parliament, his first since pro-democracy demonstrations erupted two weeks ago. Despite expectations, he does not announce cancellation or easing of despised emergency regulations that allow police to arrest people without charges. Instead, he blames "conspirators" for setting off the demonstrations. Within hours, protests resume in the port city of Latakia.
A main Shiite opposition leader demands that a Saudi-led force leave the country immediately. The Sunni king of Bahrain invited the force, now at more than 1,500 soldiers, as pro-democracy and sectarian unrest swept the tiny but strategic island. The Shiites, a majority, sees the Gulf Cooperation Council force as directed against them. Bahrain authorities arrest a prominent blogger, a sign that the crackdown against dissent continues.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrate in the streets of several cities, demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who withdrew an offer to step down by the end of the year as political talks collapsed. The head of Yemen's largest tribe, of which Saleh is a member, guaranteed that Saleh would not be harmed if he steps down, an attempt to arrange a peaceful transition.
The ruling military council declares that presidential elections will be held by November to pick a successor to ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Parliamentary elections are set for September. The council also publishes an interim constitution that liberalizes election laws to allow new parties to form.