Middle East in turmoil: Gunfire in Tripoli, Iraq's 'Day of Anger'
As the uprising in Libya enters its 11th day and demonstrations continue around the Middle East, we keep you updated on the developing situation. We'll be marking time in Eastern Standard Time. Libya is seven hours ahead, Iraq is eight hours ahead, and Tunisia is six hours ahead. (See World Clock here.)
LIBYA: 1:03 a.m. (EET) / 6:02 p.m. (EST), Friday
We'll be signing off for the night , but make sure to follow our world page this weekend for the latest news.
We leave you with this picture of a supporter of Gaddafi, who holds a figurine of his leader at the Green Square in Tripoli Friday:
Thanks for being with us today.
British officials are contacting senior Libyan figures to ask them to desert Gaddafi or face trial alongside him for crimes against humanity, the Guardian reported Friday. One hundred fifty Britons are trapped at workplaces in the Libyan desert, and Special Air Service troops and paratroopers are on standby to rescue them.
The official TAP news agency said Tunisia's transitional government will hold elections by mid-July at the latest, according to an Al Jazeera report Friday. The statement came as tens of thousands of protesters massed in the Kasbah government quarter. Protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi's transitional government, which was set up after former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted last month.
Demonstrators shouted "Ghannouchi leave" and "Shame on this government" as army helicopters circled above the crowd.
LIBYA: 11:52 p.m. (EET) / 4:52 p.m. (EST), Friday
Forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi battled opponents in the streets of Tripoli on Friday, as the embattled Libyan strongman vowed to "crush" a growing popular movement that is squeezing the capital from the east and west.
The White House says the U.S. is moving forward with plans to impose unilateral sanctions on Libya in response to violence there. White House spokesman Jay Carney says the U.S. is finalizing that process Friday. Watch:
During Gaddafi's speech in Tripoli's Green Square earlier Friday, he vowed to triumph over his enemies and urged supporters to protect Libya and its petroleum interests. Here are excerpts from his speech:
"If the Libyan people do not love me, then I do not deserve to live. If the Arab people, the African people, and all people, do not love Moammar Gaddafi, Moammar Gaddafi does not deserve life for one day! If my people do not love me, I do not deserve life for a day."
"Get ready to fight for Libya, get ready to fight for dignity, get ready to fight for petroleum, to defend independence and glory. Respond to them, put them to shame."
"We can crush any enemy. We can crush it with the people's will. The people are armed and when necessary, we will open arsenals to arm all the Libyan people and all Libyan tribes."
"We will defeat any foreign attempt as we defeated Italian occupation and American raids."
"Do as you please. You are free to dance, sing, and celebrate in all squares throughout the night. You must keep this spirit high, for it is stronger than the mouths of the Arabs, stronger than the mouths of the agents, the vile Arabs."
"Look Europe, look America, here is Moammar Gaddafi! Look you Arabs, look at the Libyan people. Here Moammar Gaddafi is among the crowds, among the youth. These are the Libyan people! This is the fruit of the revolution. The youth are enthusiastic. They want the revolution, they want dignity and glory."
"Feel at ease in the squares and the streets. Live the life of dignity. Moammar Gaddafi is one of you. Dance, sing, rejoice!"
A U.S. official says the United States has closed its embassy in Libya's capital after evacuating all personnel on a ferry and a chartered airplane. The official said the Tripoli embassy's operations were suspended because of the deteriorating security situation. The last embassy staff departed on a chartered flight at 1:49 p.m. EST. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the extreme sensitivity of the situation.
Cell phone video from Tripoli, Libya shows the scene at the airport where thousands are reportedly waiting to evacuate the country. Watch:
LIBYA: 9:42 p.m. (EET) / 2:42 p.m. (EST), Friday
A Tripoli resident who was waiting for an evacuation flight described the situation at the Libya Air Base Friday to our correspondent Janine Zacharia via Skype instant messenger. Read what the resident had to say.
IRAQ: 10:33 p.m. (AST) / 2:33 p.m. (EST), Friday
Iraqi security forces trying to disperse crowds of demonstrators in northern Iraq killed five people Friday as thousands rallied in cities across the country during the "Day of Rage." Watch:
LIBYA: 8:29 p.m. (EET) / 1:29 p.m. (EST), Friday
International NGO Save the Children says it is concerned at reports that children have been killed in a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters by Libyan security forces. Save the Children says ten of thousands more children could be displaced if fighting between security forces and anti-government protesters intensifies.
Gaddafi made an unexpected appearance in Tripoli's Green Square, addressing a crowd of his supporters and saying he would soon arm people against the protesters, Al Jazeera reported Friday.
"We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm the people," Gaddafi said, in footage that was aired on Libyan state television on Friday. "Dance ... sing and get ready ... this is the spirit ... this is much better than the lies of the Arab propaganda."
His last speech, on Thursday evening, had been made by phone, fueling speculation about his physical condition.
Watch today's speech:
Security forces opened fire on anti-government demonstrators as they streamed out of mosques after Friday prayers, resulting in multiple casualties, AP reported. Details were sketchy, but Arabic-language television networks said that between two and seven people had been killed.
Members of the Washington-area Libyan-American community will raise the flag of the pre-Gaddafi era at the Libyan ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C. at 2 p.m. today. There will also be a prayer vigil for all those killed or injured by Gaddafi's forces. An estimated 500 Libyan-Americans live in the greater Washington, D.C., area.
LIBYA: 7:29 p.m. (EET) / 12:29 p.m. (EST), Friday
While gunfire continues in Tripoli, some 600 miles east of the capital in Benghazi, a parallel government is taking shape that includes citizen leaders as well as former government officials and military officers. Here, Libyans are in prayer.
IRAQ: 7:17 p.m. (AST) / 12:17 p.m. (EST), Friday
Clashes have erupted across Tripoli as the struggle for the country's capital escalates. On Twitter, journalists, youth movements, and Libyans on the ground expressed feelings of frustration, hope, or made observations.
NATO's main decision-making body is holding an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss Libya's unrest. The alliance may discuss deploying ships and surveillance aircraft to the Mediterranean, officials said. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the alliance does not intend to intervene in Libya, and that such an action would require a U.N. mandate. The council consists of ambassadors from NATO's 28 member states.
The entire Libyan mission in Geneva has quit in a public session after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi must resign. Sarkozy said Friday in Turkey that state violence in Libya cannot go unpunished and added that Gaddafi "must go." In Geneva, Adel Shaltut, second secretary at Libya's U.N. mission, asked the U.N. Human Rights council to stand for a moment of silence to "honor this revolution."
LIBYA: 6:43 p.m. (EET) / 11:43 a.m. (EST), Friday
A video clip posted on a Libyan Facebook page purportedly shows protesters in Tripoli marching, then coming under heavy fire.
Watch the video here.
IRAQ: 6:06 p.m. (AST) / 11:06 a.m. (EST), Friday
U.S. Embassy spokesman Aaron Snipe in Baghdad released the following statement in response to Iraq's "Day of Rage":
"We support the Iraqi people's right to freely express their political views, to peacefully protest, and seek redress from their government; this has been our consistent message in Iraq and throughout the region. ... Iraqi Security Forces appear to have followed Prime Minister Maliki's directive by ensuring that citizens who choose to protest peacefully would be allowed to do so."
A ferry carrying Americans and other foreigners seeking to escape Libya's escalating turmoil finally left the capital on Friday after three tense days stuck in port. Choppy waters stranded thousands of Chinese workers back on land.
The Maria Dolores ferry left Tripoli's As-shahab port on an eight-hour trip destined for Valetta, Malta. On board were at least 167 U.S. citizens and 118 other foreigners.
Tens of thousands of foreigners are trying to flee Libya. Turks and Chinese are climbing aboard ships by the thousands. Europeans are mostly boarding evacuation flights. North Africans have been crossing at the border in overcrowded vans. A U.S. government-chartered aircraft was expected to leave from an airfield near downtown Tripoli for Istanbul later in the day.
China, with an estimated 30,000 citizens residing in Libya, has dispatched a navy ship and evacuated others by plane and bus. India, Italy, Poland, and Britain, among other nations, are also working to get their citizens out of Libya.
LIBYA: 5:55 p.m. (EET) / 10:55 a.m. (EST), Friday
A video clip posted on a Libyan site purportedly shows protesters in Tripoli pouring out of a mosque after Friday prayers to demonstrate. The protesters form a large crowd as they march down the street. At around 2:50 in the video, the protesters are fired upon at what seems to be close range.
Watch the video here.
LIBYA: 5:43 p.m. (EET) / 10:43 a.m. (EST), Friday
Libyan Prince Muhammad bin Sayyid Hassan as-Senussi told Businessweek that the country's tribes are united against Moammar Qaddafi, who toppled Senussi's great-uncle in a 1969 coup, and that there is no risk of civil war. Talk of civil war has been "created by the regime to spread fear," as-Senussi said in a telephone interview from London.
LIBYA: 5:08 p.m. (EET) / 10:08 a.m. (EST), Friday
The International Organisation of Migration says that the exodus of mostly foreign migrants from eastern Libya to Tunisia is increasing, with up to 7,408 new arrivals over a 24-hour period as of Friday morning at a single border crossing, according to Al Jazeera. The total number of arrivals in Egypt, Tunisia and Niger has reached around 40,000 to 50,000.
LIBYA: 4:53 p.m. (EET) / 9:53 a.m. (EST), Friday
At least five people have been killed in Tripoli after security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in the Janzour district, MSNBC quoted a resident as saying.
IRAQ: 5:30 p.m. (AST) / 9:30 a.m. (EST), Friday
Local security forces say at least 13 people have been killed in a car bomb attack in northern Iraq.
Gunfire erupted in at least three neighborhoods of the Libyan capital of Tripoli after prayers finished Friday, as opponents of Moammar Gaddafi tried to revive their protests against his regime in spite of a massive security clampdown.
Libyan state TV had announced hours earlier that the government will give each family 500 dinars ($400) to cover increased food costs, while some public sector workers will receive a pay raise of 150%.
In Benghazi, 600 miles east of the capital, a parallel government began to take shape that included citizen leaders as well as former government officials and military officers.
International efforts to stem the bloodshed gained momentum with the United Nations Security Council scheduled to discuss a draft proposal for sanctions against Libyan leaders and NATO convening an emergency session in Brussels.
Libya's food supply chain is at risk of collapse, the U.N.'s World Food Program said.
Tens of thousands rallied in cities across Iraq during what has been billed as the "Day of Rage." Iraqi security forces attempting to disperse crowds killed five people Friday.
About 2,000 protesters are said to have gathered after weeks of scattered protests calling for an end to corruption, shortages of jobs, food, power and water.
| February 25, 2011; 4:47 PM ET
Categories: The Daily Catch
Save & Share: Previous: Archie grows up; a battle with light sabers; and planes and cars mix
Next: Charlie Sheen rant gets the Internet a-giddy
Posted by: sales7 | February 25, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: vedic1 | February 25, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: vedic1 | February 25, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse