Pro-Qaddafi Forces Assault Key City, Region-Wide Protests ContinueS

The struggle to oust Muammar Qaddafi from power in Libyan has essentially become a civil war, and anti-government protests are showing few signs of letting up from Algeria to Iraq. Here's the latest from the Middle East and North Africa.

  • A bloody battle still rages between rebels and pro-Qaddafi forces in the western Libyan city of Zawiyah, with some witnesses calling it a "massacre." Rebels are reported to have held the city after taking heavy casualties, and residents described the scene: "Everything is burning. We don't know from which side they are shooting us — from the buildings or from the streets. People are falling everywhere." Qaddafi's forces are reportedly using tanks against people's homes there. [NYT; LAT]
  • Egypt's prosecutor general may bring Hosni Mubarak back to Cairo next week for questioning. Seems doubtful, but who knows. [Ahram Online]
  • Saudi Arabia's interior ministry has stated that all protests are illegal and they've pulled the religion card to back up their case: "Regulations in the kingdom forbid categorically all sorts of demonstrations, marches and sit-ins, as they contradict Islamic Sharia law and the values and traditions of Saudi society." Apparently oppression and marginalization of large parts of the population are okay, though. [BBC]
  • Reviled former Egyptian Interior Minister Habib al-Adly pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption today, while state security buildings outside of Cairo have reportedly been burned down by protesters. [AFP; Reuters; Al Masry Al Youm]
  • Qaddafi's hometown of Sert won't fall to rebels without a very bloody fight: "It reminds him of his childhood." [Time]
  • Protesters in Bahrain are wondering why the Obama administration isn't backing them as it did in other countries in the Middle East. Here's one reason: Obama is adopting a policy of "regime alteration." [NYT; WSJ]
  • "Tens of thousands" of protesters are in the streets across Yemen again today, while president Ali Abudullah Saleh rejected an opposition proposal for him to leave office this year. [AJE]
  • Anti-government protesters in Algeria have again been attacked by security forces and pro-government thugs who threatened to lynch one opposition leader, Said Sadi in the streets. [AFP]
  • The last thing North Africa needs is more weapons floating around. [At War; part 2]
  • Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said replaced three of his friends who held top government posts with three different friends today. Progress! [AP]
  • [Image of Libyan rebels guarding the oil refinery at Ras Lanuf via AP]