Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

AP News
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Posted: Jun 21, 2011 2:33 PM
Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

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SYRIA

Syrian President Bashar Assad's effort to drown out pro-democracy protests explodes into clashes between government supporters and opponents, and security forces open fire and kill seven people, including a teenager. The violence flares a day after a speech in which Assad, trying to contain the situation, offered a vague promise of reform, one brushed off as too little, too late by the opposition, which wants an end to the Assad family's 40-year authoritarian rule. Tens of thousands of regime supporters converge on squares in several major cities. They soon clash with opposition supporters, drawing in security forces.

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LIBYA

NATO says one of its unmanned drone helicopters disappeared over Libya, disputing reports that forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi shot down an alliance attack helicopter. Libyan state television repeatedly broadcasts images of what appeared to be aircraft wreckage, including shots of a red rotor and close-ups of markings in English. It quoted an unnamed Libyan military official saying a NATO Apache attack helicopter crashed in Zlitan, about 85 miles (135 kilometers) east of the capital Tripoli.

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EGYPT

Egypt's military rulers post a Facebook poll to gauge the popularity of nearly 20 presidential hopefuls, an attempt to show their commitment to a democratic transition in the face of rising criticism of their management of the country. The governing council's outreach to the public on the political process is a novelty after three decades of authoritarian rule by President Hosni Mubarak, who is accused of overseeing a corrupt system heavily controlled by his family and cronies. Skeptics say the military is just perpetuating the Mubarak regime's tight controls on politics, and they suspect the poll may just be a way for the generals to promote their favorite candidate.

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YEMEN

The head of Yemen's most powerful tribal confederation warns Tuesday in a letter to the Saudi king that Yemen could plunge into civil war if President Ali Abdullah Saleh is allowed to return home. Saleh is in Saudi Arabia receiving treatment for serious injuries from a blast early this month at his palace in the Yemeni capital that left him severely burned with severe burns. Sadeq al-Ahmar, the influential tribal chief who was an ally of Saleh before switching sides to join the opposition, warns, "His return will lead to sedition and civil war."

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TUNISIA

Tunisia's former ruler is denying accusations he fled the country and says he was "tricked" into leaving. A statement from Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's Lebanese attorney says the ousted leader boarded a plane to Saudi Arabia after he was advised by his security chief of an assassination plot against him. He says he planned to return on the same flight after dropping off his family, but the plane's pilot disobeyed orders and took off without him.