Libyan Rebels Push West as British Commandos are 'Held'S

As deadly fighting in several Libyan cities continues, reports claim that an elite British SAS unit was captured by rebels. Meanwhile, protesters in Bahrain are stepping up pressure on the ruling elite. Here's what's happening across the Middle East.

  • Reports of early morning gunfire in the Libyan capital, Tripoli were explained by Qaddafi's government as a celebration of victory over the rebels. As the Times notes, "6:00 a.m. Sunday morning is an unusual time for a victory rally, and the rally was notably well armed." [NYT]
  • Middle East scholar Juan Cole calls the situation in Libya what it really is — a "fierce" civil war. [Informed Comment]
  • Jon Lee Anderson has a report from Ras Lanuf, Libya — the site of a bloody battle over a major oil refinery and where rebels shot down a Qaddafi fighter jet: "I saw what was left of the pilots. Both of them had been decapitated, presumably in the explosion or impact, but their bodies, still clothed in their green flight jumpsuits, were intact. The face of one of the men had been partly shorn off, and lay, with his nose and his mustached upper lip, upon the desert, like a kind of discarded mask." [The New Yorker]
  • Egyptians stormed the headquarters and several other buildings of the feared State Security on Friday and Saturday, and many made off with tens of thousands of documents, several torture devices, as well as sex tapes of famous Egyptians and Arab royalty. This is a huge victory for Egyptians, who lived under constant fear of the heavy handed tactics and world-class torture techniques employed by the roughly 500,000-strong State Security apparatus. [AJE; AP]
  • Several elite British SAS troops are reportedly being held by Libyan rebels. One rebel leader said: "They were carrying espionage equipment, reconnaissance equipment, multiple passports and weapons. This is no way to conduct yourself during an uprising." Clearly. [Guardian] Update: The SAS troops have been freed, according to Al Jazeera.
  • Thousands of protesters converged on the prime minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa of Bahrain's offices to demand he leave, along with King Hamad. Yesterday, thousands of Bahrainis formed a human chain around the capital, Manama. [AJE]
  • The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Americans thinking about going to Yemen, citing "terrorist activities and civil unrest." Next time they should add, "due to terrorist activities and civil unrest spurred, in large part, by decades of U.S. financial and military support to a reviled despot in the name of killing terrorists." Or something along those lines. [State Dept.]
  • Overnight, the offices of an independent Kurdish radio station in northern Iraq were "ransacked" and the site of protests in Sulaimaniyah were allegedly attacked by Kurdish authorities, who "set fire to the tents, took some of the protesters and left." [AFP]
  • Much of the U.S. aid to the Egyptian military actually went towards Gulfstream jets for the generals and a hospital used to make money from medical tourism. Not a huge surprise, but still... [NYT]
  • The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia still have a long road ahead. [TIME]
  • Another great Libya report from Al Jazeera English:

    [Image of Libyan rebels via Getty]