A look at the latest developments in political unrest across the Middle East on Wednesday:
With a stalemate developing on the battlefield, attention moves to diplomatic efforts. Curt Weldon, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, arrives in Tripoli on a private mission to try to find a solution. A former minister in Moammar Gadhafi's Cabinet says members of his inner circle would defect but are afraid of the consequences to their families. NATO rejects rebel criticism that its airstrikes are not effective enough.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators fill the streets of the southern city of Taiz, defying a government crackdown, demanding the immediate resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled the country for 32 years..
A hard-line Iranian cleric calls on Bahrain's people to resist their government, underlining the sectarian nature of the unrest in the strategic island kingdom, where majority Shiite Muslims are demonstrating against a Sunni monarchy that has ruled for two centuries. The government warns that giving in would allow Shiite Iran a foothold there.
President Bashar Assad makes gestures in the direction of conservative Muslims in an attempt to lessen criticism of his government. He lifts a ban on face veils for teachers and closes the country's only casino. Opposition leaders call for demonstrations the rest of the week to honor more than 80 protesters killed in clashes with government forces.