Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

AP News
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Posted: Aug 16, 2011 2:28 PM
Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

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SYRIA

Heavy machine gun fire rings out across the besieged Syrian city of Latakia as the death toll from a four-day military assault rises to 35. President Bashar Assad is dramatically escalating the crackdown on a 5-month-old uprising during the holy month of Ramadan, which started at the beginning of August. Despite broad international condemnation, the regime is unleashing tanks, ground troops and snipers in an attempt to retake control in rebellious areas. The British foreign secretary says Assad is losing "the last shreds of his legitimacy."

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LIBYA

The United Nations' special envoy for Libya meets representatives of both sides of the conflict, as rebels make a dramatic advance that brings them within 30 miles of Moammar Gadhafi's stronghold in the capital Tripoli. A Tunisian security official says the discussions centered on a "peaceful transition" in Libya. The official says the rebels reacted angrily. One member of their delegation threw a shoe during the meeting to show his deep disdain.

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YEMEN

President Ali Abdullah Saleh vows to return to Yemen soon from Saudi Arabia, where he has been recuperating from wounds he suffered in a June attack on his palace compound. There are fears that his return to the country could spark a civil war. There are also are concerns that Yemen's al-Qaida offshoot will take advantage of the turmoil and take a freer hand in plotting attacks on the West. In a televised address from Saudi Arabia, Saleh tells supporters: "See you soon in Sanaa," Yemen's capital. He lashes out at his opponents, calling them, "exploiters, war merchants, and street looters."

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MOROCCO

Morocco schedules a legislative election on Nov. 25 in response to a push for greater freedoms across the Arab world. The current parliament was expected to serve until late 2012, but the election was pushed forward as part of democratic reforms spearheaded by King Mohammed VI. The North African kingdom has seen frequent protests over the past months, as demonstrators call for elections and constitutional reforms.

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IRAN

Iran's internal power struggles are shifting into election mode. Hard-line political forces are banding together to groom candidates for next year's parliamentary elections and punish allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The newly formed bloc of 15 ultraconservatives factions _ united by absolute loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei _ marks a powerful bid to expand control over the political system before the voting for Ahmadinejad's successor in mid-2013.

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BAHRAIN

An international panel investigating Bahrain's unrest closes its office after angry crowds scuffled with staff members following reports that government officials would be cleared of committing abuses against protesters seeking greater rights. A statement by the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry says no conclusions have been reached, and probes will continue into the Shiite-led demonstrations and the crackdowns by the Sunni monarchy. Shutting its main office, the commission vows it "will not allow itself to be used as a political tool" by either side.