Libyan rebels push into Tripoli, arrest Gaddafi’s son

Libyan rebels have reportedly arrested the son of President Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, after last night pushing into the capital Tripoli.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) yesterday told AFP that al-Islam, who is wanted on charges of crimes against humanity, was in custody.

Rebels with the Transitional National Council (TNC), now recognised by many nations including the Maldives as Libya’s legitimate governing entity, last night reached Tripoli’s central Green Square following reports that Gaddafi’s Presidential Guard had surrendered.

“Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant,” said US President Barack Obama in a statement, following the rebel’s push into Tripoli. “The Gaddafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.

“The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Muammar Gaddafi and his regime need to recognise that their rule has come to an end. Gaddafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all,” Obama said.

Gaddafi, who earlier had vowed to fight “to the last drop of blood”, issued a statement on state television calling on the population to descend on the city and defend it from the rebels.

“They are coming to destroy Tripoli. They are coming to steal our oil. Now Tripoli is in ruins. Come out of your houses and fight these betrayers. Hurry up, hurry up, families and tribes, go to Tripoli,” Gaddafi said.

Libya’s information ministry continued to insist that the regime had “thousands and thousands of fighters”.

“Nato has intensified its attacks on and around Tripoli, giving immediate and direct support for the rebels’ forces to advance into a peaceful capital of this great nation and the death toll is beyond imagination,” a Gaddafi’s spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim said, warning of impending “massacres”.

“I thought I knew the West. But in this conflict I saw a different West. The West of blood and disaster and killing and occupation.”

An uprising of rebel groups in the centre of Tripoli was joined by fighters arriving by sea, armed with weapons seized following the capture of a large military base on Sunday afternoon. Nato planes provided air cover for the advancing rebels.

Meanwhile in Tripoli, there were reports that four districts of the city remained under Gaddafi’s control. Media reporting on the push claimed that the dictator of 42 years had sent tanks into residential areas and fired on protesters, and there were rumours of roadside executions.

Early this morning, a rebel spokesman told Al-Jazeera that Gaddafi’s forces still controlled 15-20 percent of the city, and showed no sign of surrender.

Gaddafi’s fall is likely to increase pressure on the Syrian Iran-backed regime, which continues to target civilian demonstrators despite increasing discontent across the international community.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed that military action against Syria would “bring repercussions”, adding that demands for his to step down “should not be made about a president who was chosen by the Syrian people and who was not put in office by the West, a president who was not made in the United States.”

The Maldives is meanwhile leading a special session of the UN Human Rights Council, in conjunction with Germany, Kuwait and Mexico, to address the deteriorating human rights situation. Permanent Representative of the Maldives to the United Nations, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, is holding a press conference on the topic this afternoon.


Mubarak appears in court charged with killing protesters, corruption, waste of public funds

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appeared in an Egyptian court on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of demonstrators during the popular uprising that led to his ousting in February.

Mubarak, who had exiled himself to a Red Sea resort in Sharm el-Sheikh, was wheeled into the defendant’s cage on a hospital stretcher flanked by his sons Alaa and Gamal, in a courtroom in a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo that once used to bear his name above its door.

The 83 year-old was accused by the prosecutor of authorising the use of live ammunition for crowd control and intentionally killing peaceful protesters, 850 of whom died during the riots.

The first Arab leader to stand trial for his response to the Arab Spring was also charged with corruption and wasting public funds, and abusing his power to amass private wealth. Early forensic accountancy reports aired in the UK press suggested this could be as high as US$70 billion, while the Washington Post subsequently reported that including cash, gold and other state-owned valuables the amount could well reach US$700 billion – US$200 million more than Egypt’s GDP.

Mubarak spoke little as the charges were read out, only stating “I entirely deny all those accusations.”

The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported that Mubarak’s lawyer Farid el-Deeb, who is among Egypt’s most famous and known for both his “exquisite politeness” and “snappy dressing”, intends to present 1600 witnesses to the court.

Judge Ahmed Refaat of the fifth district of the Cairo criminal court, who is presiding over the case, meanwhile “has a reputation as Mr Clean and a track record of judging politically sensitive cases”.

Egypt meanwhile remains under the control of a military council led by a former defense minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who has promised a transition to democracy and has kept a low profile despite continuing protests in Cairo’s Tahir Square.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, was the highest profile victim of the Arab Uprising, a series of mass protests across the Arab World that has seen the fall of many long-serving dictators, including Tunisian President Ben Ali, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and potentially, Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. President Bashir of Sudan has announced he will not seek another term, as has Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq.

Widespread killing of demonstrators continues in Syria, with more than 2000 deaths reported so far. Libyan casualties have surpassed 13,000 as Muammar Gaddafi clings to power despite months of NATO bombings.


Gaddafi’s son and grandchildren killed in NATO strike

The youngest son of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi and three of the ruler’s grandchildren were killed last night in a NATO airstrike, Libyan authorities have claimed.

Libyan government spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim said Gaddafi and his wife, who were present in the building, were unharmed in the attack that claimed the life of Saif al-Arab Gaddafi.

“We think now it is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with the protection of civilians,” Ibrahim told international media.  “This is not permitted by international law. Nato does not care to test our promises, the west does not care to test our statements. Their only care is to rob us of our freedom.”

NATO and the defence ministries of countries involved in supporting Libyan regime change did not immediately comment on the attack. The UN resolution 1973 made in March does not explicitly permit or prohibit assassination of military leaders – Gaddafi is the de-facto head of the country’s armed forces – but it is mandated to use “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

Fighting for key towns and oil ports continues as Gaddafi’s forces clash with NATO-backed rebels based in the eastern city of Benghazi. On Friday aid ships were blocked from docking at the port of Misrata – the scene of some of the civil war’s most vicious fighting – while coalition warships cleared mines laid by Gaddafi’s military.

Last month the Maldives suspended diplomatic ties with the Libyan government as Western powers increased military pressure on President Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

“Following the recognition of the TNC, the suspension of diplomatic relations with the pro-Gaddafi regime is based on the continuing deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in Libya, and increasingly clear evidence that the Gaddafi regime is guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” the Maldives Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement came after the US accused Gaddafi of using human shields and cluster bombs against his own population in Misrata.


“Clear evidence of crimes against humanity”: Maldives suspends diplomatic ties with Libya

The Maldives has suspended diplomatic ties with the Libyan government as Western powers increase military pressure on President Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

“Following the recognition of the TNC, the suspension of diplomatic relations with the pro-Gaddafi regime is based on the continuing deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in Libya, and increasingly clear evidence that the Gaddafi regime is guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” the Maldives Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement came after the US accused Gaddafi of using human shields and cluster bombs against his own population in the city of Misata, in some of the fiercest fighting of the civil war so far.

At least 10 civilians were killed on Wednesday, along with British photojournalist Tim Hetherington and American photographer Chris Hondros.

A bombing attack on Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli yesterday meanwhile caused three causalities, after NATO jets targeted a bunker underneath a car park.

France, Italy and Britain this week authorised the deployment of military advisors to assist the ill-disciplined rebels in overthrowing Gaddafi’s government, despite earlier reluntance to put ‘boots on the ground’ in the stricken country.

US President Barack Obama has meanwhile authorised the use of drone aircraft in Libya. A NATO official this week told the UK’s Guardian newspaper that the drones would allow the identification of individuals even in crowded urban environments, allowing for more precise airstrikes.

After France and Qatar, the Maldives was the third country to recognise the Transitional National Council, the Benghazi rebels’ representative body.


Civilian shootings and talk of civil war as unrest grows in Syria, Libya and Yemen

Syrian authorities are reported to have opened fire on protesters gathered outside a mosque in the city of Deraa killing at least five people under a government crackdown on protests, as political struggles continue to rock a number of Middle Eastern and African nations.

News of the deaths reflects continued uncertainty in Syria, Yemen and Libya, where reports of dissatisfaction and uprisings by swathes of their respective populations has led to violent confrontations, which in certain cases have led to bombing interventions by foreign military.

The BBC today said that five people were believed to have died as Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters in the streets outside Deraa’s Omari mosque as anti-government protests that begun in the country on Friday have continued to rage, leading to at least 10 fatalities.

The British news service also reported that Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi used his first public address in a week to speak within a compound that appeared to have been destroyed during air strikes from a coalition of western nations, where he stated his continued defiance to rebels and foreign armed forces working to oppose him.

Following the UN Security Council’s resolution authorising military intervention in Libya, France, the UK and the US have attacked targets across the country in an effort to dismantle Gaddafi’s ability to contest a no fly zone, and prevent a retaliatory attack on targets like the rebel–occupied city of Benghazi.

According to the BBC, the Libyan leader called on “all Islamic armies” to join his opposition of rebels and foreign forces that have claimed to be attacking strategic points of Gaddafi’s governance and military power.

“Long live Islam everywhere. All Islamic armies must take part in the battle, all free [people] must take part in the battle… We will be victorious in the end,” he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has claimed that the rescue by US troops of an American pilot and a weapons officer who crashed in Libya has led to some difficult questions for the foreign coalition in the country. The paper reported that American forces stood accused of dropping two 500-pound bombs during the rescue operation raising the possibility of civilian casualties.

The rescued soldiers remain aboard a US vessel in the waters surrounding the African nation, but the paper reported that the Pentagon did not know whether any civilians were killed by the bombs dropped in Yemen.  An unnamed Marine Corps officer in the Mediterranean denied that any shots had been fired at civilians during the incident, according to the paper.

Al Jazeera meanwhile reported that air strikes instigated by foreign powers from across Europe and America – provisionally under the basis to try and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya – have not appeared to halt Gaddafi’s attacks on rebel forces made up of fellow countrymen that oppose him.

“Undaunted by air strikes launched by coalition warplanes aimed at enforcing a no-fly zone, pro-Gaddafi forces have pressed ahead with their assaults on the towns of Misurata, Ajdabiya and Zintan in the past 24 hours,” the news agency has said.

In trying to oppose the Libyan leader’s military muscle, Al Jazeera claimed that rebel forces were outgunned and had “little command structure” to oppose state attacks.

Meanwhile, amidst the conflict in Libya, Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who also faces criticisms and calls to step down from his own people, has claimed that the country could potentially face civil war if he was forced from office.

Saleh, who also stands accused of using security forces to violently suppress protests among his people, is reported to have offered to stand down from his post at the end of the year under what he has said would be a “constitutional” transfer of power.

Al Jazeera reported though that the offer coincided with the president imposing a national state of emergency following violent “crackdowns” on anti-government protests with unconfirmed reports of 41 people having died in the capital of Sanaa alone due to the unrest.

According to the news agency, skepticism remains over Saleh’s reported offer after similar vows to stand down from the presidency back in 2005 did not come to pass. Saleh has been president since 1978.

The 22-member Arab League, which has previously called for a no-fly zone across Libya on the grounds that Gaddafi has been bombing his own people, has also moved to condemn Yemen’s leader for “crimes against civilians”, calling for a peaceful resolution to the country’s unrest.

The political unrest has continued following the fall in February of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunsian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, spreading to potential uprisings in other nations including Jordan and Algeria to Syria, Libya and Bahrain.

Mubarak, who was in power for 30 years, finally gave in after weeks of protests and stepped down from the presidency, handing power to an interim military government last month.

Swiss authorities announced following his resignation that they were freezing assets belonging to Mubarak and his family, pressuring the UK to do the same. Mubarak is thought to have a personal fortune of US$70 billion stashed across various bank accounts and property holdings all over the world.

That the people of one of the Middle East’s largest, oldest and most populated countries could not only overthrow but seek justice against a 30 year autocracy has sparked a wave of political dissent in the region.

The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported one senior western official of claiming at the time that “there has been an awakening of political awareness among the young who have been waiting for solutions that have never come and are not really in the menu now. They are saying: ‘Why should we carry on like this?’”


Moral complexities of Libyan intervention rising as Gaddafi prepares for “long war”

Forces loyal to Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi are in retreat from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi after two nights of sustained bombing by coalition forces.

Following the UN Security Council’s resolution authorising military intervention in Libya, France, the UK and the US have attacked targets across the country in an effort to dismantle Gaddafi’s abilility to contest a no fly zone, and prevent a retalitatory attack on Benghazi.

The first night after the collapse of a short-lived ceasefire, US vessels stationed off Libya fired 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles into the gulf nation destroying much of its ability to fight back against NATO aircraft.

French aircraft then destroyed a column of Gaddafi’s tanks converging just 40 miles from Benghazi, which had steadily pushed the rebels back across the country after their initial surge caught the regime off-guard.

“In their panic, many of the soldiers had left engines running in their tanks and trucks as they fled across fields,” reported Kim Sengupta for the Independent. “Some raided farmhouses on the way to swap their uniforms for civilian clothes. But others did not make it, their corpses burning with their vehicles or torn apart by spraying shrapnel as they ran to get away.”

The Guardian reported rebel claims that Gaddafi was now forcing demoralised soldiers to fight by handcuffing them to their tanks, and forcing them to fly planes without parachutes.

“We found 13 men wearing the military uniform of Gaddafi,” the Guardian reported rebel spokeperson Khaled al-Sayeh as saying.

“Some were handcuffed and we believe they were executed possibly for defying orders.”

The AFP has meanwhile reported that the US is now using satellitse to monitor 9.5 tonnes of mustard gas Gaddafi has stored in the Libyan desert, in an effort to prevent a potential terror attack.

“We believe that it’s secure,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan told AFP. “Even if not weaponised, there’s still a threat, but it’s a smaller threat than if it is weaponised.”

Air strikes last night destroyed Gaddafi’s residence in Tripoli and a building the coalition claimed was Gaddafi’s command and control centre. Gaddafi has responded to the attacks by claiming on state television that he was prepared for a “long war”.

“We will not leave our land and we will liberate it,” he said, over the telephone.

“America, France, or Britain, the Christians that are in a pact against us today, they will not enjoy our oil,” he claimed. “We do not have to retreat from the battlefield because we are defending our land and our dignity.”

Despite the coalition’s vastly superior firepower, the moral complexity of the intervention is fast rising. In his justification for war to British Parliament, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said intervention “is right because we believe we should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people.”

However media present in the capital Tripoli were reporting that Gaddafi was loading civilian ‘human shields’ into military infrastructure across the city, including women and children.

Gaddafi’s strategy has resulted in wavering support from the 22 member Arab League, when Secretary-General Amr Moussa condemned “the bombardment of civilians”.

The Arab League had pressed for a no-fly zone in a rare authorisation of force against one of their own member states – a deciding factor for intervention, according to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – however the Pentagon had emphasised even a no-fly zone would require destroying Gaddafi’s ability to fight back.

Veteran war correspondent Robert Fisk, writing for the UK’s Independent newspaper, observed that the West had largely ignored the fact that the powerful tribal group leading the rebellion in Libya, the Senoussi, were overthrown in 1969 when Gaddafi deposed their King Idris.

“Now let’s suppose they get to Tripoli. Are they going to be welcomed there? Yes, there were protests in the capital,” Fisk wrote, “but many of those brave demonstrators themselves originally came from Benghazi. What will Gaddafi’s supporters do? ‘Melt away’? Suddenly find that they hated Gaddafi after all and join the revolution? Or continue the civil war? The red, black and green ‘rebel’ flag – the old flag of pre-revolutionary Libya – is in fact the Idris flag, a Senoussi flag.”

President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, who called for UN peacekeeper intervention in Libya at the start of the demonstrations,  welcomed the international coalition’s enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

“The Maldives reiterates its desire to see a swift end to Gaddafi’s regime and hopes that the people of Libya will soon enjoy fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the President’s Office said in a statement.


Western military intervention in Libya imminent after skepticism over shaky ceasefire

The UN Security Council has passed a resolution authorising military action in Libya, excluding occuption by foreign troops, opening a window for not just a no-fly zone but air assault on President Muammar Gaddafi’s tank columns.

Gaddafi’s forces last week pushed the disorganised and increasingly demoralised rebels back to their stronghold of Benghazi, raising international concerns that a retaliatory massacre was imminent. The rebels had held several key oil towns and even neared the outskirts of the Libyan capital of Tripoli on the back of army defections and a regime caught off-guard, but was steadily pushed back by foreign mercenaries, tanks and Gaddafi’s airforce.

The UN resolution expresses “grave concern at the deteriorating situation, the escalation of violence, and the heavy civilian casualties” and notes that Gaddafi’s response to the uprising “may amount to crimes against humanity” and pose a “threat to international peace and security”.

The resolution explicitly calls for a ceasefire and the immediate implementation of a no-fly zone to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s airforce, and furthermore calls on UN member states “to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”.

After weeks of prevaricating, US President Barack Obama yesterday demanded that Gaddafi cease his advance on Benghazi and withdraw troops from towns formerly held by the rebels, while US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton confirmed that the outcome of international action would be the removal of Gaddafi from power.

Already engaged in two wars in the Middle East, the US had resisted calls from countries including France, the UK and the Maldives for intervention in Libya. US generals had observed that maintaining a no-fly zone would mean bombing Gaddafi’s anti-aircraft defences and would effectively be an act of war.

The US change of heart appears to have come after the 22-member Arab League this week called for a no-fly zone across Libya, arguing that President Muammar Gaddafi had compromised the country’s sovereignty by using the air force to bomb his own population.

Gaddafi responded by calling a ceasefire, reportedly hours before bombers were due take off, and invited international observers into the country.

The move bought the 42-year autocracy some time, but attracted little patience from world leaders.

“Once more, Muammar Gaddafi has a choice,” said US President Obama. “Let me be clear: these terms are not negotiable … if Gaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences and the resolution will be enforced.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that Gaddafi was “a dictator no longer wanted by his people, but determined to play out in real time a bloody slaughter. It is a slaughter that we now have the power, the demand and the legal basis to stop. That is why what we are doing is right.”

News of the resolution was met with jubilation in Benghazi, although there was widespread skepticism over whether Gaddafi would adhere to his ceasefire – suspicion that was warranted when bombing and shelling continued that evening, and a fighter plane crashed into the city itself after it was shot down by rebels.

Spokesperson for the Libyan Transitional National Council Essam Gheriani, the body given legitimacy last week in Paris as the face of the popular uprising, told the UK’s Guardian newspaper that the resolution had “avoided a great deal of bloodshed.

“The revenge Gaddafi would have taken in Benghazi would have been worse than anything we’ve seen before even in a city where he had mass hangings in public. It has been a great morale booster,” said Gheriani.

“This was an international community that for once gave priority to human lives over economic interests.”

Fighting continues across the Middle East as entrenched dictatorships struggle to quell a surge of democratic uprisings. Snipers in Yemen yesterday shot dead 30 protesters in the country’s capital, while opposition leaders in Bahrain have been arrested after the government invited 1000 Saudi troops into the country to crush the Shia uprising in the minority Sunni-ruled country.

Yesterday’s sudden international support of forcible regime change in Libya is likely to increase the confidence of demonstrators in other repressive countries in the region.


Maldives calls for support of Libyan rebels, rebels request air strikes

A delegation of Libyan rebels from the Transitional National Council have met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and called for Western powers to assassinate the country’s President, Muammar Gaddafi.

A spokesperson for the Benghazi-based rebels, Mustafa Gheriani, told media in Paris on Monday that the group wanted “a no-fly zone, we want tactical strikes against those tanks and rockets that are being used against us, and we want a strike against Gaddafi’s compound,” said Gheriani. “This is the message from our delegation in Europe.”

Other rebel leaders in France include Abdul-Jalil, previously Gadaffi’s justice minister who resigned in protest against “excessive use of force” against demonstrators, Abdel-Hafiz Ghoqa, a representative for Benghazi and a human-rights lawyer, and Omar Al Hariri, a former general now in charge of the rebellion’s military affairs who was responsible for teaching Gadaffi to drive.

Gaddafi’s forces, including foreign mercenaries and the airforce, have pushed the Libyan rebels back to the town of Ajdarbia, the last occupied town before the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Early gains by the rebels saw them capture key oil centres such as Ras Lanuf in the confusion as elements of the regime’s military defected. However now the government’s forces have stabilised and begun to push back, the disorganised and ill-disciplined rebel fighters have been unable to contend with Gaddafi’s tanks and apparent enthusiasm to use air-strikes against his own population.

Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed today joined earlier calls from the Arab League for the UN Security Council to fulfill its obligations and impose a no-fly zone in Libya.

“Through its own actions, the Gadaffi regime has lost its legitimacy and right to govern,” President Nasheed said.

“Following the Gaddafi regime’s loss of legitimacy, at the present time the Transitional National Council has emerged as the only legitimate body representing the aspirations of the Libyan people. The international community, led by the UN, must therefore immediately open channels of communication with the Transitional National Council.”

Imposing a no-fly-zone would most likely involve US intervention under the banner of NATO. US generals, cautious given the country’s controversial history of intervention in the region, have pointed out that policing the no-fly zone would require strikes against Libyan surface-to-air weapon systems and amount to military intervention.

Prior to the escalation of the conflict President Mohamed Nasheed called for the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Libya, amid a wave of unrest against the region’s assorted dictators.
Yesterday, Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain to halt an uprising of the country’s Shia Muslim majority against the Sunni-elite. The opposition in Bahrain has denounced the move as an act of war that could trigger further waves of strife in the region.
“We consider the entry of Saudi Arabia or other Gulf forces into the Kingdom of Bahrain’s air, sea or land territories a blatant occupation,” Bahrain’s Shia Wefaq party said in a statement.


Arab League calls on UN Security Council to “shoulder responsibility” of Libyan no-fly zone

The 22-member Arab League has called for a no-fly zone across Libya, arguing that President Muammar Gaddafi has compromised the country’s soverignity by using the air force to bomb his own population.

Meeting in Cairo, the League called on the UN Security Council to “shoulder its responsibility” and implement the no-fly zone. The US – which as part of NATO would undoubtedly contribute most of the military resources for such an action – has so far been leery of intervention given its controversial history in the region. US military chiefs have earlier stated that a no-fly zone would effectively be a declaration of war, as military assets such as surface-to-air missile defence systems would have to be destroyed in order to police the zone.

Backed by air cover, Gaddafi’s forces have been steadily pushing untrained and disorganised rebel militia groups back west toward their stronghold in Benghazi. Three days ago, after near-unanimous global condemnation of Gaddafi, the rebels abandoned the oil town of Ras Lanuf and surrendered in Misrata and Breqa.

A witness to the fighting in Bin Jawwad told the UK’s Independent newspaper that the rebels had been pushed back by fighters from Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, some of whom appeared to be drugged. An Al-Jazeera cameraman, Ali Hassaon Al Jaber, was killed when his vehicle came under fire near Benghazi.

The Libyan government continues to insist that the insurgents are al-Qaeda militants.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s Sunni elite are reportedly entertaining the prospect of inviting Saudi Arabian forces into the country to crush growing calls for reform from the majority Shia population. Saudi police meanwhile reportedly fired at protesters in the country’s eastern town of Qatif during protests on Friday.

Seven demonstrators were also killed in Yemen, a day after police fired teargas and live ammunition at protesters injuring over 100 people.
Last week senior Maldivan officials warned that the local economy would “collapse within hours” if the price of oil were to skyrocket on the back of regional instability – particularly in Saudi Arabia.
The Maldives currently spends 25 percent of its GDP importing fuel, mostly marine diesel, and is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to oil price fluctuations.