Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

AP News
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Posted: Apr 21, 2011 5:08 PM
Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

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LIBYA

Rebels battle Moammar Gadhafi's troops for control of central Misrata, taking over tall buildings used by pro-government snipers overlooking a major street in hours of urban warfare in the opposition-held city in western Libya. The rebels also capture a Libyan border crossing into Tunisia, forcing government soldiers to flee over the frontier and possibly opening a new channel for opposition forces in the west.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says President Barack Obama has approved the use of armed Predator drones in Libya. The drones allow for low-level precision attacks.

The Libyan government, meanwhile, has ramped up its rhetoric against NATO, warning that "it will be hell" for the alliance if it sends in ground troops, even though Britain's prime minister said the Western nations were not moving toward such a deployment.

Earlier this week, Britain, Italy and France announced they're dispatching military officers to advise the rebels, prompting speculation that this is a step toward sending in ground forces, at a time when NATO airstrikes fail to break the battlefield stalemate or protect besieged civilians in Misrata.

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SYRIA

Syrian President Bashar Assad formally ratifies an end to the 50-year-old state of emergency as the regime tries to dampen enthusiasm for the country's monthlong uprising on the eve of massive rallies planned for Friday. The ratification was a formality after the government abolished the emergency laws two days ago.

Assad is trying to calm angry protests against his authoritarian rule by issuing a series of concessions, including an end to the emergency law that gave authorities almost boundless powers of surveillance and arrest.

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YEMEN

The head of a six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council presents a new proposal to embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh for resolving the country's crisis, calling on him to hand over power to a successor of his choice and leave within a month. The opposition say the monthlong transition is too long, demanding he step down immediately.

The proposal is the second attempt to mediate the crisis by the GCC, which in its previous effort called for Saleh to step down but did not propose a timetable.

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EGYPT

An Egyptian court has ordered the name of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his wife Suzanne removed from all public facilities and institutions _ the latest step in dismantling the legacy of the former leader's 29 years in power. The ruling will affect hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of subway stations, schools, streets, squares and libraries across the nation that bore the name of the former leader or his wife over the years.

Also, authorities detain former Oil Minister Sameh Fahmi and seven other former ministry officials over allegations of wasting public money and harming the country's national interest by supplying Israel with gas at rates far below market prices. The prosecutor general has ordered they remain in custody for 15 days pending further investigation.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Authorities have replaced the elected board of the lawyers' association and replace them with state-appointed substitutes as part of a crackdown on reform movements in the oil-rich Gulf nation. The decision appears linked to efforts to silence calls for democratic reforms in the Gulf federation, where nearly all political activity is banned.

Four independent activists have been detained after signing a petition calling for an elected parliament.