Fierce clashes continue in Libya; Christians and Muslims clash in Egyptian capital
As demonstrations continue around the Middle East, we keep you updated on the developing situation. Use this map to keep up with the events in Libya and this map to keep up with all of the demonstrations, day by day.
We'll be marking time in Eastern Standard Time. Tunisia is six hours ahead, Egypt and Libya are seven hours ahead, Yemen and Iraq are eight hours ahead, and Oman is nine hours ahead. (See World Clock here.)
As we close up for the night, Gaddafi's troops were reported to be redoubling their efforts against rebel forces, the international community debated a no-fly zone, and protests continued to spread across the Middle East.
Thanks for being with us today, and come back tomorrow for more updates.
The Yemeni government escalated its efforts to stop mass protests calling for the president's ouster on Tuesday, with soldiers firing rubber bullets and tear gas at students camped at a university in the capital in a raid that left at least 98 people wounded, officials said. Read more here.
Iraq will continue to have demonstrations as citizens demand jobs, electricity, water and other basic services and protest against official corruption, Reuters reported. But the US believes they won't topple the fragile coalition government, a senior US official said Tuesday.
"People are protesting not for regime change, but for services, against corruption, for better government response to their needs," Michael Corbin, deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq, told a Washington think tank.
Correspondents Steve Hendrix , Anthony Faiola and Samuel Sockol sent in reports from the ground in Zawiya, Ras Lanuf, and Tripoli.
Troops loyal to Gaddafi continued to besiege the rebel-held Libyan city of Zaiwiyah, west of Tripoli, for a fifth day on Tuesday. Rebel officials there cited a death toll in the dozens and hundreds of wounded, including women and children.
In Ras Lanuf
In Ras Lanuf, 410 miles east of Tripoli, rebel officials said Ras Lanuf was coming under heavy bombing by loyalist aircraft. As of late Tuesday, rebel officials said they still held control of the town. A medical doctor in the city speaking to Al Jazeera TV network said the hospitals there had received more than 20 people wounded, most with serious injuries.
An eastern front appeared to be developing in the no-mans land between Ras Lanuf, and the next city west, Bin Jawwad, which the rebels lost to the loyalists late Sunday. According to an AFP report, Gaddafi's troops were digging trenches and setting up heavy artillery to try to form a fortified line and thwart attempts by the rebels to move farther west.
In the capital, Tripoli, residents reached by phone said the tense quiet of the last few days largely persisted, though the sound of machine gun fire -- claimed by Gaddafi loyalists to be celebrations -- occasionally echoed around the city.
Three hardline Shiite opposition groups have formed a "Coalition for a Bahraini Republic" to push for the overthrow of Bahrain's Sunni royal family, AFP reported Tuesday.
"We hereby declare a tripartite coalition between the Wafa, Haq and Bahrain Freedom Movement that has chosen to fight for a complete downfall of the regime, and the establishment of a democratic republic in Bahrain," said the statement given to AFP.
Clashes between Christians and Muslims escalated in a day of violent protests in Egypt's capital Tuesday, AP reported. Soldiers fired shots in the air to break up the clashes while people burned tires and smashed parked cars.
Earlier in the day, thousands of Christians demonstrated in two other locations in Cairo against perceived persecution by the country's Muslim majority.
Hundreds of Egyptian women demanding equal rights and an end to sexual harassment on International Woman's Day were confronted by men who verbally abused and shoved them in a separate protest on Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Ramy Yaacoub, an eyewitness at one of the protests, recorded this audio report from the State TV building, in which he reports a different scene: "I've been here two days ago and the crowds were big, but now they're much bigger. Same chants, same asking for equality, Christians and Muslims of one hand:"
While others tweeted their support:
An earlier version of this post may have wrongly implied that Ramy Yaacoub was reporting on clashes.
Pro-Gaddafi forces have launched a fierce attack on Libyan rebels in Zawiya, west of Tripoli, sources in the town told BBC. Fifty tanks and 120 pick-up trucks launched three attacks on the town. Casualties were reported.
"I don't know how many are dead -- they tore Zawiya down to ashes," a source in the town told the BBC.
Warplanes also fired missiles on residential areas and in the oil town of Ras Lanuf.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says the situation on Tunisia's border with Libya is now under control, BBC reported. 110,000 have flooded the border since the beginning of the crisis.
Libyan state TV broadcasted footage Tuesday of what it says are confessions from rebels captured in Bin Jawad, according to BBC. The men, who are blindfolded and have their hands tied, tell the cameras they were "persuaded" to fight. One man says he went along "convinced that my action will destroy me and destroy Libya."
An official with a subsidiary of Libya's national oil company said Tuesday that production has dropped by about 90 percent, from about 95,000 barrels per day to just 9,500 barrels per day, AP reported Tuesday. The drop reflects the impact on the OPEC member's oil sector from the violence raging in the country.
The drop came as OPEC said it was considering ramping up production to offset the Libya supply drop.
Protesters gathered outside Kuwait's main government building Tuesday to call for the resignation of the prime minister and greater political freedoms, AP reported. Security forces stood by as hundreds of demonstrators moved into an area outside a building that held the offices of Kuwait's emir and prime minister. The initial crowd was small, but protest organizers had to switch the original venue of Safat Square in Kuwait City after police blockaded it.
The protest was organized in large part by youth groups on Twitter. Many tweeted observations from the protest:
Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi has 72 hours to step down from his post if he does not want to be pursued by the opposition over crimes they say he has committed, the head of the rebel group National Libyan Council told Al Jazeera Tuesday. The deadline will not extend beyond 72 hours, rebels say.
"If he leaves Libya immediately, during 72 hours, and stops the bombardment, we as Libyans will step back from pursuing him for crimes," council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil told Al Jazeera.
"Conditions are that firstly he stops all combat in the fields, secondly that his departure is within 72 hours; thirdly we may waive our right of domestic prosecution ... for the crimes of oppression, persecution, starvation and massacres."
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is on his way to talks with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin, AFP reported. The talks will cover a wide range of issues, but will include a discussion of "global efforts to impose sanctions applying maximum pressure on the Gaddafi regime."
After widespread reports that Gaddafi had offered, through an third party, to give up power if he was allowed to leave the country, opposition leaders said at a news conference Tuesday that no such offer had been made.
"In reality there is no such proposal," said Abdul Hafidh Ghoga, a spokesman for the opposition's governing council. "We have not been contacted, there is no emissary."
Earlier Tuesday, a different opposition spokesperson had told The Washington Post that rebel leaders were approached late Monday by a former Libyan government official about the possibility of a deal.
Heavy shelling was heard Tuesday on the front line of the rebels' battle against Gaddafi loyalist forces west of rebel-held oil town Ras Lanuf, AFP reported.
Libyan war planes are launching air strikes on rebels in Ras Lanuf, and rebels are responding with anti-aircraft guns, British Web site the Telegraph reported. The Telegraph has this video from Ras Lanuf:
Leading opposition group the Libyan Transitional National Council has released a "map of the revolution". The map is available here, but the council's site is very slow. Catch a glimpse of what areas of Libya the council says are rebel-controlled or held by Gaddafi forces below:
The Libyan government is calling for a United Nations probe to investigate allegations of human rights abuses and violence during the country's bloody uprising, a senior EU official said Tuesday. But an EU spokesman said it was not the bloc's job to deliver political messages from Gaddafi's regime. It was not immediately clear whether the Libyan government had sent the request directly to the United Nations or just to the EU.
Youth groups in Kuwait are planning to hold demonstrations Tuesday calling for the resignation of the prime minister and for greater political freedoms, Al Jazeera reported. Two groups called the al-Soor al-Khames (Fifth Fence) and Kafi have rallied followers on Twitter to take to the streets on Tuesday as parliament holds its first session in six weeks.
Youth groups are using the hashtags #soor5 (a nod to the Fifth Fence), #8mar (today's date), #kafi (for the youth group Kafi), and #q8 (Kuwait). Hat tip to James Buck for our translations.
One user from Kuwait tweeted that he wanted to return to an old Kuwait away from the corrupt media:
Another tweeted about favoritism and the president:
While some tweeted that although they refused to join the demonstrations, they denied the corruption behind curtains and wanted the president to leave:
Protesters will demand Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the prime minister, step down after five years in power. The al-Sabah family has ruled the small Gulf state for more than 250 years, and political parties are banned. Demonstrations are also banned in Kuwait without prior approval, which has not been received for Tuesday's action
A Yemeni security official says about 2,000 inmates staged the revolt, taking a dozen guards hostage. The riots prompted security forces to open fire with tear gas and live ammunition.
The official says the unrest in the Sanaa prison erupted late Monday when prisoners set their mattresses ablaze and occupied the facility's courtyard. At least three prisoners in the Sanaa facility were reported killed and four others injured, inmate Sharif Mobley told Al Jazeera by phone from within the prison.
As fighting continues in cities across Libya, the opposition says an offer--purportedly from Gaddafi--was conveyed to Libya's council elders late Monday in the provisional capital of Benghazi, Steve Hendrix and Anthony Faiola reported. According to an opposition spokesman, the Libyan leader would agree to step down if granted immunity from prosecution and safe passage out of the country.
But opposition officials said the offer could be a ruse, designed to hold off rebel attacks and buy time for loyalist forces seeking to regroup and intensify their attacks. Some also theorized that Gaddafi could be trying to sow dissent within the opposition.
On Monday, rebels said they would not be willing to consider any offer until the counterassault stopped.
The opposition's fledgling governing council is expected to meet later on Tuesday, with the offer potentially on the agenda.
President Obama addressed comments directly to Moammar Gaddafi's inner circle Monday in an attempt to pressure those helping prop up the Libyan dictator with a tacit threat of future criminal prosecution, Scott Wilson and Joby Warrick reported.
The United States has appealed directly to Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa, a former intelligence chief who has maintained ties with U.S. diplomats and CIA officials for more than a decade. But U.S. intelligence officials say Kusa has shown no sign of turning against Gaddafi.
Fearing unrest in wake of the Middle East uprisings, China put new restrictions on foreign journalists that they must have government permission to interview anyone in a public area in China, Keith Richburg reported.
The restrictions came a week after foreign journalists were physically harassed by security officers and repealed policies enacted for the 2008 Olympics to showcase a more modern, less authoritarian China to the world.
In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom is turning to old tactics to keep dissent at bay, banning protests, detaining some activists and blocking Web sites carrying petitions for reform, Janine Zacharia reported. The sharpest warnings came over the weekend, ahead of a "day of rage" called for Friday.
| March 8, 2011; 1:08 PM ET
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