A new caretaker cabinet has been appointed by the interim prime minister of Egypt. The NY Times reports on this latest development which answers protesters demand to eliminate links to former President Hosni Mubarak. This announcement comes amid a weekend of fresh protests targeting the state security organization and the Interior Ministry. These protests were dispersed by the army and plainclothes officers using clubs, knifes, and rocks. These protests were caused by reports of documents being destroyed that would prove of Mubarak’s oppression of the Egyptian people. The protests this weekend ended after the army allowed 10 protesters to confirm that documents were not being destroyed.
BBC News reports on the massive influx of migrants into Italy. Overnight, about a 1000 migrants, mostly from Tunisia and Libya, arrived on the island of Lampedusa on a dozen boats. These migrants are in addition to the several thousand that have arrived since mid January when unrest in Tunisia began. The Italian government is transporting migrants from Lampedusa to facilities on the mainland, but they are being overwhelmed. Italy has called on other European nations to provide aid and housing for these migrants.
This BBC News article provides updates to the latest situation in Libya. Pro-government forces are assaulting the city of Zawiya for the second day in a row in attempt to wrest its control away from the rebel forces. Forces loyal to Gaddafi have surrounded the city with tanks and armored vehicles; they are also shelling the city with artillery. Meanwhile in the port city of Ras Lanuf, rebel forces have defeated pro-government forces and taken control of the town. The fight for Libya continues. While the rebel forces control much of the major cities, Gaddifi and his loyal forces are still clearly in control of Tripoli. This revolution may come down to an all at war for Tripoli.
After Friday prayers, hundreds of protesters braved uncertain conditions to have their voices heard in Tripoli. A BBC News reporter that was on the scene says that security forces responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Meanwhile, explosions and heavy artillery was heard in the port town Ras Lanuf where opposition fighters are advancing on pro-Qaddafi forces. Reports from the opposition claim that they have taken the city, while official Libyan state TV reports that pro-Qaddafi forces had held the city. Libyan Air Force loyal to Qaddafi have also been reported to have conducted a couple of air-strikes against ammunition depots.
Today is Friday which means protesters have come out in force to show their displeasure with their government after Friday prayers. Al-Jazeera reports on the thousands of people who demonstrated in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square to protest against corruption and unemployment. The Iraqi government responded by blocking off streets and preventing the protesters from marching into the Green Zone where the seat of government is housed. Protests also occurred in Basra and Najaf.
Wired Magazine’s Danger Room blog fields a report from a correspondent in Benghazi, Libya where opposition forces have broken into an underground bunker of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. The opposition forces found crates of weapons, ammo, and rockets. Military members of Gahdafi’s regime that have defected to the opposition are organizing the population into an opposition army with plans to take on loyal regime forces in Tripoli. Forces are reporting that they have organized up to 14,000 volunteers to fight. The forces are preparing anti-aircraft weapons in anticipation of a fight for Tripoli. Salem Abdelhassid El Dressy, a 41-year-old accountant who volunteered on Tuesday said:
I think there will be massive fighting if we go to Tripoli, I hope to god I am wrong, but I am ready to fight. We all want to go to Tripoli to get rid of Gadhafi.
Iranian opposition forces are continuing to attempt to gather to protest, however, Iranian security forces are doing their best to disrupt these efforts. The BBC News reports that Iranian security forces have used tear gas to disperse protests in Tehran. These latests protests are in response to reports that opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been jailed by the Iranian government. Moussavi and Karroubi had been under house arrest for most of February.
Al-Jazeera reports on the political unrest in Yemen where President Ali Abdullah Saleh is blaming the United States and Israel for meddling in Arab affairs and inciting the unrest. Despite these remarks, tens of thousands of protesters continued to call for Saleh to step down. The protesters were joined by leaders from opposition movements for the first time, including Sheikh Abdul-Majid al-Zindani who the US accuses of having ties to Al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, the Yemeni Army clashed with separatist in Habilayn district. This seems like an opportune time for the separatist movement to take action.
Oman has mostly avoided the unrest that has occurred throughout the Middle East. However, today marks the second day of protests in Oman as hundreds gathered in the cities of Sohar and Salalah, calling for political reform. BBC News reports on the most recent country to see protests. In Sohar, two people have died and five have been wounded as police used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the protests. Yesterday, Sultan Qaboos bin Said replaced six ministers in his cabinet and announced increased social benefits for students.