Recap of developments in Middle East, North Africa

CAIRO- Latest developments in the unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.
LIBYA: Libya's air force carried out new raids Tuesday on a rebel-held town as the revolt against Moamer Kadhafi's regime entered its third week amid mounting calls for a no-fly zone over the country.
- Rebels said they rejected an offer to mediate talks with Kadhafi and demanded that he leave the country, while the strongman's regime dismissed as "rubbish" any suggestion of an approach from the Libyan leader.

- Kadhafi's regime accused the West of "a conspiracy to divide Libya" as Washington, under mounting pressure to help opposition forces, said it was premature to arm the rebels.
- Libyan warplanes hit a block of flats in the rebel-held town of Ras Lanuf, the first time homes have been hit there, as reports from the front line said strongman Moamer Kadhafi's forces were digging in for a lengthy battle.
- The Libyan rebel leadership will not pursue criminal charges against Kadhafi if he resigns and leaves the country, the head of their self-declared national council said.
- The head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) called on the United Nations to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, but rejected any intervention on the ground.
- Arab foreign ministers are to hold crisis talks to discuss imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, Arab League officials said.
- The European Union agreed to slap new sanctions on Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime, notably targeting the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) -- the overseas investment vehicle for Tripoli's oil revenues.
KUWAIT: Kuwaiti youth activists were forced to change the venue of planned anti-government protests after police shut the original site, organisers said.
EGYPT: A Cairo criminal court upheld a decision to freeze the assets of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his family, the official MENA news agency reported.
JORDAN: Jordan's powerful Islamist opposition, which boycotted the November general election, called for the dissolution of parliament, accusing MPs of hindering reforms.
PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Palestinian women took to the streets to call for unity and an end to the Israeli occupation in a series of rallies called to mark International Women's Day.
OMAN: Omanis protesting against corruption said they would not be mollified by a major cabinet reshuffle in which more than a third of the sultanate's ministers were sacked or shifted.
BAHRAIN: Dozens of activists on Monday protested at the US embassy in Manama calling for Washington to press Bahraini authorities for democratic reform after weeks of demonstrations.
- Housing Minister Majid al-Alawi announced plans to build 50,000 houses at a cost of at least $5.32 billion in the latest move to try to calm the protests gripping the small but strategic kingdom.
TUNISIA: Tunisia's newly legalised Islamist movement said it supported the country's ban on polygamy but urged the government to lift one on wearing headscarves in schools and universities.
- Tunisia on Monday announced a new interim government free of any members of the regime of toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and scrapped a security agency that had targeted political dissidents.
SUDAN: The Sudanese opposition on Monday rejected an offer of talks with the ruling National Congress Party, which has pushed for a broad-based government after the south gains independence in July, saying regime change is the only option.
SAUDI ARABIA: The United States said Monday that the right to protest must be respected everywhere, including in Saudi Arabia, where the interior minister has said protests are illegal.
- The kingdom released a Shiite cleric whose arrest last month provoked demonstrations and a Facebook call for a "Day of Rage", a human rights activist said Monday.
YEMEN: Riot police fired warning shots and used batons to disperse prisoners in Sanaa's central jail on Monday after they called for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
ALGERIA: Thousands of auxiliary police marched in Algiers on Monday to demand pay rises, breaking through heavy security to reach parliament in a rare mass show of dissent.
- The government is studying ways to improve dialogue with the public including the use of social media, a minister said Sunday, after police cracked down on anti-regime rallies.
MOROCCO: A few hundred people, mainly youths, attended a quickly improvised pro-democracy rally in front of the Moroccan parliament Sunday, calling for the rule of law and radical political reform.
- Young activists are using Facebook to call for new demonstrations on March 20 "for dignity and large scale political reforms."

Wednesday, March 9th 2011

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