Libya, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Contrasts Heightened
Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 6:12
Scott Lucas in Africa, Algeria, Bahrain, EA Global, EA Middle East and Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, King Abdullah of Jordan, Libya, Middle East and Iran, Morocco, Yemen, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

2340 GMT: That, quite frankly, was a bizarre experience. No word on what has happened to Muammar Qaddafi, but Saif al Islam Qaddafi did appear to concede that some of the country is in the hands of the opposition. At the same time, there was the combination of the surreal threat --- drug dealers, foreign media, outside powers, Arabs and Africans --- and defiance.

More tomorrow. Meanwhile, coverage continues on our Live Feed from Al Jazeera English.

2338 GMT: Qaddafi's son concludes, "Our morale is high. May God make Libya a safe country. May God be with you."

2337 GMT: "We will fight to the last," he continues "We will not leave Libya." The Qaddafis will not allow Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya or the BBC to triumph.

2333 GMT: Now Saif al Islam Qaddafi lays down the threat. His father had received "tens of thousands" of letters of support to defend Libya and then there is the Libyan Army, which is "not the Tunisian Army or Egyptian Army". They will destroy "sedition".

2332 GMT: Two options --- stand together and have "incredible reforms for a new Libya" or a "cycle of violence" that will be worse than Iraq or Yugoslavia.

2327 GMT: Qaddafi's son finally offers some concessions with promise of talks on a constitution and a more decentralized Libya in governorates and municipalities. He warns that, if this path is not followed, the US fleet will come after Libya because it will not stand for an Islamic emirate.

He then goes back to the themes of a revolution being sparked by drug users and spurred on by foreign powers.

2325 GMT: "We face a historic decision. We're tribes and we're all armed: the five million of us. You'll be leaving Libya."

"Be not prepared to visit each other for 10 years. It will be like North and South Korea."

2314 GMT: "Whoever wants to rule to separate. I say this is treason. You are letting other Arabs laugh at us."

Qaddafi's son continues, "If we separate, who's gonna feed us? Who's gonna run the oil resources? Who has the ability to run it? Who is going to build our hospitals?"

He then embarks on a history lesson to say Libya could be ripped apart by civil war.

2310 GMT: Qaddafi's son continues --- in a nice touch, given the regime's use of mercenaries --- with the foreign theme: "We captured tens of Arabs and Africans who were hired by the wealthy to be used against us." Arab media is also behind the plot.

"Our Arab brothers are drinking coffee in the comfort of their homes and watching this country burn/"

2307 GMT: While saying there were mistakes on both sides, Saif al Islam Qaddafi continues, "They want to establish an Islamic Emirate in [the city of] Bayda. Some people took drugs & were used by these protesters."

He then says another group threatening Libya is drug traffickers and "youth and even children some of who were under the influence of LSD pills".

2304 GMT: Qaddafi's son says, "There have been problems in Benghazi and this has developed --- this is opposiition separatist movement."

He says the army made mistakes --- it was not trained for riots --- but there were no more than 84 deaths. Protesters were drunk or on drugs.

2302 GMT: Qaddafi's son continues, "We know that there's opposition that lives abroad and that they have friends and supporters internally. We know that there's opposition that lives abroad and that they have friends and supporters internally. The state was aware of the agitation, the state arrested those agitators on February 17, it all snowballed from there on."

2301 GMT: "We all know that the region is passing through an earthquake, a hurricane of change," he says. "If this change does not come from the govts it will come from the people, we have seen this in other Arab countries."

2300 GMT: Muammar Qaddafi's son Saif Al Islam is addressing the nation: "In these critical times, t's my duty to talk to you". He says he will speak in Libyan dialect, not classical Arabic, to the people. He is speaking without notes.

2230 GMT: The hot rumour --- and we stress that it is a rumour --- is that Muammar Qaddafi has left Libya for Venezuela or Brazil.

2255 GMT: A security officer from Tripoli on Aljazeera --- We are no longer with the regime, we are with the people.

2225 GMT: The head of the Al-Zuwayya tribe in eastern Libya has threatened to cut off oil exports unless authorities stop the "oppression of protesters".

2210 GMT: Libya's 2nd Secretary in its Embassy in China, Hussein Sadiq Al Misrati, has just quit in an on-air interview with Al Jazeera, saying he is not honorred to represent a regime that kills its own people.

Al Misrati asked other diplomats to follow his action and called on the army not to attack protesters.

And the diplomat claimed that Muammar Qaddafi's son Saif Al Islam, who was supposed to speak on State TV tonight, will not do so --- he was shot by his brother Mutasam in a fight for control.

2200 GMT: A photograph of today's protest in Tangier in Morocco, one of a number across the country to call for reforms (see 1615 GMT):

2100 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting from Libyan sources that there are clashes in Tripoli's Green Square between thousands of protesters and Gaddafi supporters.

2045 GMT: It is reported that Libyan authorities arrested Islamic scholar Al Sadeq Al Gheryani after he spoke to Al Jazeera over the phone tonight.

Rumours are swirling of high-ranking military commanders leaving the Qaddafi regime, of Libya's second city Benghazi "falling" to protesters after the defection of military units, and of the break-up of tribal support for Muammar Qaddafi after the Warfala tribe joined the resistance (see 1915 GMT).

2035 GMT: Tunisia has formally requested the extradition of ousted President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali from Saudi Arabia.

The Tunisian Foreign Ministry accused Ben Ali of "serious crimes" aimed at "sowing discord between the citizens of the same country by pushing them to kill one another". It specifically charged Ben Ali with "holding bank accounts and property in several countries, as part of laundering of money acquired illegally as well as illegal possession and exports of foreign currencies".

The Foreign Ministry also asked Saudi Arabia to " provide it as soon as possible with all information on the health of the ousted president, following the spread of contradictory news on the deterioration of his health and his possible death". There have been rumours that Ben Ali, 74, was in a coma, and he mistakenly was reported to have died last week.

2025 GMT: Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh, facing ongoing protests, has offered to oversee a dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition.

Opposition groups swiftly rejected the offer.

A 17-year-old demonstrator was killed Sunday evening in the southern city of Aden when the army opened fire to disperse a march. His was the ninth death since daily protests began began on 10 February.

2005 GMT: Reuters reports, from a local doctor, that at least 50 people have been killed in Benghazi since 1300 GMT today.

2000 GMT: Jordan's King Abdullah II has told his new government to enact "real and quick reform": "We need hard work, and we need a continuous process of assessment and evaluation to correct errors and failures."

Abdullah, who suddenly dismissed the Government of Prime Minister Samir Rafai on 1 February, continued, "When I say reform, I want real and quick reform. Because without genuine reforms, the situation will remain as it was, when many officials wasted opportunities because of reluctance to move forward and fear of change."

1955 GMT: Libya's Ambassador to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al Honi, has submitted his resignation over "the mass genocide of Libyans".

1950 GMT: A message from Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain tonight, "Must be over 100,000 people...chanting, "Brothers, sisters, Sunni and Shia, this Bahrain we will never sell."

1915 GMT: Al Jazeera Arabic reports that the Warfala tribe in Libya has joined anti-government demonstrations.

The Warfala have stood up against the Qaddafi regime in the past, leading a 1993 uprising.

1805 GMT: An appeal comes to us, via Twitter, that surgical wire, cotton and linen gauze, strong painkillers, and salt and glucose solutions are needed in Libya.

1750 GMT: Video of claimed attack on protesters in Libya:

1745 GMT: A moderate Islamic party outlawed for 15 years has been granted official recognition Saturday by an Egyptian court.

Al-Wasat Al-Jadid (The New Center) was founded in 1996 by activists who split off from the conservative Muslim Brotherhood and sought to create a political movement promoting a tolerant version of Islam with liberal tendencies. Its attempts to register as an official party were rejected four times since then, most recently in 2009.

1720 GMT: Al Jazeera is reported as "confirmed" that at least 13 Libyans died in Benghazi hospitals today. It is unclear whether the wounds were from clashes on Sunday or earlier in the week.

1705 GMT: CNN, quoting eyewitnesses, says rotesters have crashed a car bomb into the wall of military camp in Benghazi, trying to breach the facility.

1635 GMT: And an update from Libya....

Security forces opened fire again on residents of Benghazi as they attended a funeral procession for the protesters killed --- estimates range up to 200 --- on Saturday. They also dispersed three smaller uprisings in working-class suburbs of the capital Tripoli.

Human Rights Watch has now raised its tally of confirmed deaths since Tuesday to 173.

1615 GMT: A quick update on the protests in Morocco today....

Several thousand people rallied in cities demanding political reform and limits on the powers of the King. More than 2000 --- 4000 according to the organisers --- marched in Rabat, shouting, "The people want change."

In Casablanca, Morocco's biggest city, more than 1000 demanded, "Freedom, dignity, justice."

1510 GMT: Al Jazeera Arabic reports, from a Libyan activist, that six mercenaries --- two Tunisian and four African --- have been captured.

1235 GMT: More than 15,000 workers at Egypt's largest textile factory, Misr Spinning and Weaving in Mahalla, ended a strike on Sunday, as leaders said main demands had been met.

1230 GMT: Claimed video of protest in Sanaa in Yemen today:

1210 GMT: In Iraq, clashes on Saturday between police and protesters in Kurdistan injured 14 people.

Witnesses said police used water cannons and fired weapons over the heads of rock-throwing demonstrators in Sulaimaniya. The protests were over the killing of one person and injuring of 57 on Thursday by security forces, after attacks on the local offices of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Video of demonstrations:

1125 GMT: Libya's official news agency is claiming that Egyptian, Tunisian, Turkish, Palestinian, Syrian, and Sudanese nationals are among "dozens of elements belonging to a foreign network" working to "destabilize the country" and have been arrested by Libyan security.

The agency said the foreigners attack and vandalize hospitals, banks, courts, prisons, police stations, and military police points as well as private properties.It added that current protests in Libya may be connected to a scheme previously announced by Major General Amos Yadlin --- the former head of the the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate --- that involved planting espionage cells in Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Iran.

1120 GMT: At least 2000 protesters have gathered in a square in Morocco's capital Rabatto demand that King Mohammed give up some of his powers and clamp down on government corruption. Some are waving Tunisian and Egyptian flags. Chants include, "The people reject a constitution made for slaves!" and "The people want the autocracy down!"

Uniformed police have kept their distance, although there were plain-clothes officers mingling in the crowd with notebooks.

The protest was initiated by a group calling itself the February 20 Movement for Change, which has attracted 19,000 followers on the social networking website Facebook.

Demonstrations are also planned for Morocco's other main cities, including Marrakesh.

1110 GMT: A claimed video LiveStream from Libya is now operating.

Meanwhile, footage has surfaced of a crowd questioning and roughing up an alleged mercenary.

1100 GMT: Banks re-opened in Egypt today after being shut for most of the period after the uprising of 25 January.

0945 GMT: Reuters reports shots fired as pro- and anti-government demonstrators clash at Sanaa University in Yemen.

0935 GMT: Human Rights Watch has revised its toll for Libya to 104 dead since Tuesday.

0755 GMT: Journalist David MacDougall reports from Bahrain, "Several thousand marching on Pearl Sq [Roundabout] chanting "down down Khalifa" against ruling family."

0645 GMT: A resident in Libya's capital Tripoli has told Al Jazeera English that protests have been shut down by security forces using gunfire and making arrests.

0615 GMT: Yesterday we titled the LiveBlog "Contrasts". We could not have been --- inadvertently --- more clairvoyant.

When we started coverage, we were looking at the sharp difference between Egypt, where hundreds of thousands were celebrating a successful uprising and looking for its demands to be met, and the suppression of protest in Yemen, Libya, and Bahrain.

By the afternoon, the list had changed dramatically. The sudden withdrawal of the Army and then the police from Pearl Roundabout, the symbolic central location of protest in the capital Manama, left the area open for a re-occupation. Less than 60 hours after they had been bloodily overrun in the same place, a day after dozens of them had been cut down by gunfire seeking to return, Bahrain's demonstrators dramatically took down the barbed wire, waved flags inscribed with "Peace", and joyously tried to take in their victory.

Not so in Libya, where unconfirmed reports of hundreds dying in Benghazi, the country's second-largest city, streamed in through the night. This morning, it is still what has happened, given the lack of reporters on the ground and the varying accounts of residents. It appears, however, that there is a bloody battle for control of the city in what could be the greatest challenge to Muammar Qaddafi's 41-year rule.

Fighting has primarily been in the east of the country, but there are ever reports of skirmishes in the capital Tripoli.

In Yemen, the conflict ratchets upwards, with one person dying and seven injured in the daily clashes between pro-regime and anti-regime protests.

The opposition in Algeria, facing a heavy security presence in the capital Algiers, could not put more than 2000 people into view and could not establish a foothold in the Place of 1 May. However, in neighbouring Morocco, protesters are hoping to launch a challenge today.

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