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Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Holding the Lines

2115 GMT: Brigadier General Mansour Mohammed Abu Hajar, head of the Libyan Army's armoured vehicles and infantry division in Benghazi, said this afternoon that he and the division's personnel had joined the opposition: "[We] announce our joining of this blessed revolution, which we hope God Almighty will grant success and victory. We denounce the killing and the extermination of defenceless youths by the security brigades and hired mercenaries. I and all the division's personnel put ourselves at the disposal of this glorious revolution."

2110 GMT: In Yemen, tens of thousands of people have marched on the streets of the capital Sanaa, demanding the fall of the President Ali Abullah Saleh.

Saleh had asked on Monday for discussions for a new unity government, but he later turned from conciliation to allegation, warning that Yemen could be split into four parts and accusing the US and Israel of being behind the protests.

2100 GMT: Muammar Qaddafi's forces re-asserted their presence at the Dehiba border crossing with Tunisia on Tuesday, decorating the post with green Libyan flags. Reporters on the Tunisian side saw Libyan army vehicles and soldiers armed with Kalashnikov rifles.

Residents of Nalut, about 60km from the Tunisian border, also reported seeing paramilitary forces massing outside the city. At the town entrance, the opposition has used a bulldozer to pile up a hill of dirt and rocks as a road barrier.

Meanwhile, the situation at the Libyan-Tunisian border is reaching breaking point, as thousands pressed to get out of Libya. An estimated 140,000 people have left the country in recent days, with half of them going to Tunisia.

2040 GMT: More than 70 Islamic scholars and academics in Saudi Arabia have issued a statement urging King Abdullah to enact reforms.

The intellectuals called on the king to oust corrupt politicians, curb government spending, and provide better oversight of government business deals. They also called for the release of people detained without judicial orders and for the granting of more rights to the country's Shiite minority.

On Sunday, another group of 119 leading academics and activists urged Abdullah to pursue sweeping reforms, including relinquishing many powers under a constitutional monarchy.

2035 GMT: As the stand-off between the Qaddafi regime and the opposition continues in Libya, Gulf News claims from an "informed source" that the death toll in the uprising is now 6500.

2020 GMT: Egypt's Supreme Military Council has met with a delegation including Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize winner who is head of the National Association for Change, and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who is also a likely Presidential contender. The two men were part of a group of Egyptian intellectuals, politicians and businessmen.

The discussion reportedly covered the current political situation, means to develop the national economy, and a proposed timetable for Parliamentary and Presidential elections.

Meanwhile, about 2000 protesters maintained a presence in Tahrir Square in Cairo, despite an appeal by the military to evacuate. The demonstrators are insisting on the replacement of the transitional Government of Ahmed Shafiq.

2000 GMT: Catching up after a long break for academic duties and coverage of today's protests in Iran....

In Tunisia, the transitional Government was dealt a blow by the resignations of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Ahmed Ibrahim, and the Minister of Regional and Local Development, Ahmed Najib Chebbi.

Both men were prominent opposition leaders during the Ben Ali regime, which was ousted last month, and their inclusion in the Government was seen as a sign of a post-Ben Ali consensus on the way forward.

Chebbi said that he was unhappy about the hesitation and vagueness of the Government under Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, who resigned this weekend, and his replacement by former Foreign Minister Beji Caid Essebsi.

A third Minister, Elyes Jouini, who was responsible for economic and social reforms, also quit on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Ennahda Party, banned for more than 20 years as "Islamist", was reinstated today. The party is led by Rached Ghannouchi, who returned from Britain last month after almost 20 years in exile.

1205 GMT: The Associated Press reports that the opposition in the key city of Zawiyah, 55 km (35 miles) west of Tripoli, repelled a six-hour attack by regime forces overnight.

1200 GMT: In Kirkuk in northern Iraq, an indefinite curfew has been imposed with the city surrounded by thousands of newly-stationed Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Conflict in the disputed city between Kurdish and Arab groups intersected with last Friday's "Day of Rage" protests over economic and political issues.

1100 GMT: Major General Hassan al-Ruwaini, the head of Cairo's Central Command, has urged protesters in Tahrir Square to evacuate.

Visiting the square on Monday night with a delegation of senior army officers, al-Ruwaini said, "Give the armed forces a chance to fulfil your demandsWe, the armed forces, are working for your best interests. Evidence of this is our call for constitutional changes to pave the way for democracy and transparency, and ensure the freedom to select the country's president."

Thousands of protesters have continued to gather in Tahrir, the symbolic centre of the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak. They were dispersed in a show of force early Saturday morning by military police, but Egypt' Supreme Military Council later apologised for the use of violence.

Protesters said al-Ruwaini told them to prepare for parliamentary and presidential polls. They added that some demonstrators rejected his speech and interrupted to chant slogans against the head of the interim government, Ahmed Shafiq, who was appointed by Mubarak days before his ouster.

1015 GMT: Omani troops have fired in the air, wounding one person, as they dispersed a crowd demanding jobs and political reforms near the northern port of Sohar.

Witnesses said 200 to 300 people had gathered for the fourth consecutive day of protests. The crowd regrouped at a roundabout near the port, and the troops pulled back.

0910 GMT: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has accused Israel and the US of fomenting anti-regime protests in the Arab world. Saleh has also warned that, if the opposition succeeds, Yemen will be "split into four parts, not two" amidst demands for independence in the south and other political tensions.

Both pro-Saleh and anti-regime camps are reportedly preparing for marches today in the capital Sanaa.

0725 GMT: Claimed footage of gunfire outside opposition-held Misurata, 210 km (130 miles) east of Tripoli, on Monday:

0720 GMT: An on-line activist posts this map of the latest situation in western Libya:

0645 GMT: The re-opening of Egypt's Stock Exchange, scheduled for today, has been postponed again, this time until Sunday.

The stock market has not been open for business since 27 January, two days after the start of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

0500 GMT: In The New York Times, Kareem Fahim and David Kirkpatrick offer a summary of Monday's battlelines in Libya, with the forces of the Qaddafi regime trying but generally failing to push back against opposition gains.

In Zawiyah, taken by the opposition this weekend only (55 km) 35 miles west of Tripoli, about 200 heavily-armed soldiers tried to break through makeshift barricades at the city gates but came under heavy fire and were rebuffed. 

Two Libyan Air Force jets conducted bombing raids on Monday in east "Free Libya", aiming at military bases and/or ammunition depots. 

Elsewhere, political pressure was the order of the day. The Yemeni opposition accepted President Ali Abdullah Saleh's offer to participate in a unity government, but said that Saleh must quit important positions in advance. The head of the opposition coalition Mohammed al-Mutawakil asserted, "The opposition coalition will be ready to take part in the joint unity government with the ruling party after President Saleh guarantees the peaceful transition of power, which will only be achieved by Saleh's resignation from his posts in the army and finance ministry."

Al-Mutawakil added the opposition coalition did not call for "an early presidential election," considering "Saleh's resignation as president is not necessary now." 

In Bahrain, thousands of protesters confirmed the now-daily ritual of marching in the centre of the capital Manama, while in Oman hundreds were protesting, although blocked by security forces, a day after six people died in clashes. There were reports of stone-throwing and a supermarket set on fire and looted.

The situation was quieter on the streets of Egypt and Tunisia, although thousands did gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo last night. Egypt's Supreme Military Council held a meeting of more than five hours with youth groups to discuss demands for political reforms, while the Tunisian Cabinet lost another Minister, one of two that had connected to the old Ben Ali regime.

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