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Yemen, Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: A Battle in the Capital...Expanded

2145 GMT: The Egyptian regime has appointed former Assistant Foreign Minister Hani Khalaf as the special envoy to the Libyan opposition in Benghazi.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Araby said the decision follwed Egypt's determination to follow up on developments in Libya and ensure the safety and rights of Egyptian citizens in the country.

2140 GMT: Claimed video of a protest in Daraa in southern Syria today:

2130 GMT: Fighting continues tonight in Yemen's capital Sana'a, in the Hasaba neighbourhood and near the airport.

An earlier report said protesters had fled "Change Square", the centre of their movement, in Sana'a when regime forces attacked troops of the dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who were protecting the sit-in protest.

Less than 2,000 people were still in the Square. More than 10,000 demonstrators used to gather daily during he protests calling for the removal of President Saleh.

General al-Ahmar's spokesman said regime shelling on Tuesday focused on the dissident troops: "[They were] targeted by an artillery shell and several soldiers were killed."

1915 GMT: Media report clashes near Yemen's Sana'a International Airport, which is now definitely closed (see 1010 GMT). All flights are diverted to Aden in the south of the country.

1910 GMT: Blurred footage has been posted of demonstration in Douma, east of Damascus, in Syria.

1800 GMT: I'm back to learn that Egypt will open its Rafah border with Gaza permanently, closing it only on Fridays and public holidays, from 28 May.

1600 GMT: James Miller hops on to find that his concern over the situation in Syria is probably misplaced.

Iranian state-run Press TV offers this reassurance to our readers who are concerned about the situation in Syria: A delegation of clerics and scholars from Dara'a have met with al-Assad, and all is well.

"They... expressed their satisfaction over the current situation in Dara'a." Yes, I'm sure all the clerics are very satisfied.

"Experts believe Assad's reforms are a positive development in the Arab country." By experts, I'm sure that they mean the Iranian security apparatus. And yes, I'm sure that the Iranians are very happy with the current situation in Dara'a.

1540 GMT: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wasn't a fan of Netanyahu's speech in front of a joint session of US Congress yesterday. Abbas said that the plan proposed by Netanyahu left nothing to build on, and he accused Israel's Prime Minister of spreading "falsehoods and distortions."

The Palestinian plan is to push the UN to recognize a Palestinian State in September.

1400 GMT: Claimed footage of a demonstration in Taiz in Yemen today:

1330 GMT: AFP profiles Syrian rights activist and lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, who was released on Sunday after five years in prison.

Al-Bunni said in an interview, "My concern today is what needs to be done to reach a peaceful solution to the unrest in Syria, with the least number of casualties. The reforms sought today in Syria reflect the demands we (rights advocates) have been making for years. And we served time in jail because of these demands."

Bunni's three brothers and sister have been in prison, also for promoting reform, his wife Raghida lost her government job because of his work, and his three children spent most of their teenage years without theie father.

"Between myself and my siblings, along with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, we spent a total 70 years in jail," al-Bunni notes.

1300 GMT: The Syrian state news agency SANA says the Cabinet has cut the price of diesel fuel by 25% "in response to citizens' demands and economic and social considerations". It also and set up committees to study economic reform and a new media law.

1235 GMT: On Monday, we ran a special feature on Manal al-Sharif, the Saudi woman detained by authorities for making a YouTube video as she drove to encourage others to defy a ban.

Arab News updates:


Sources told Arab News that Al-Sharif’s case had been transferred to the governorate in the Eastern Province and that there was no exact time for her release.



1230 GMT: United Nations official Valerie Amos said Tuesday that a UN mission to evaluate humanitarian conditions in Daraa in southern Syria has not been allowed to enter the country.

Amos said, "We will continue to push for access; it's very important that we have a sense of what is going on."

Hundreds have reportedly died in and around Daraa since the Syrian uprising began 15 March.

1225 GMT: South African officials say President Jacob Zuma will visit Libya next week, for talks about an "exit strategy" for Muammar Qaddafi.

1222 GMT: The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights updates that more than 30 protesters have been sentenced by the emergency courts, including four demonstrators yesterday who were each given 1-year sentences.

1220 GMT: Claimed footage of a demonstration in Homs in Syria on Tuesday:

1210 GMT: Witnesses and an official have said that opposition tribesmen have taken control of the buildings of the State news agency SABA and the tribesmen also hold the national airline Yemenia and have tried to occupy the Ministry of Interior.

"Shaikh Al Ahmar's men are required to withdraw from the buildings under their control," the official said. "Otherwise, we will force them to do so."

1010 GMT: Mareb Press is reporting that Yemen's Sanaa International Airport is closed, with flights diverted to Aden in the south of the country.

An activist amends the claim, "Despite the different reports, Sanaa airport is not yet closed. It's almost impossible to reach though with all the closed roads."

0835 GMT: Mareb Press claims that Amran governorate in western Yemen is under the control of tribes opposing President Saleh.

Another sheikh, Hassan Muqbil Garoon, has reportedly died after he was seriously injured on Tuesday in the regime bombing of the house of Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, leader of Yemen's most powerful tribe.

0825 GMT: Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said this morning that he is ready to sign a deal on transition of power but will not make any more concessions.

Saleh added, in a reference to the bloody battles with tribal opponents, that he would fight anyone who threatened Yemen's "security and stability", but "I will not be forced by the tribes to enter a civil war."

0745 GMT: The Washington Post offers an interesting feature this morning: "Libyans ‘Robbed Our Own Bank’ to Fund Uprising":


In the days after Libya’s rebels rose up against Moammar Gaddafi, they faced a vexing challenge: How do you pay for a revolution?


They figured that part of the answer could be found inside the secure vaults of the Benghazi branch of the Central Bank of Libya, where Gaddafi’s government held about $505 million. And they decided the money should be theirs because they believed it belonged to the Libyan people.

So they broke in and took it.

“Let me put it this way: We robbed our own bank,” said Ali Tarhouni, the rebels’ U.S.-educated finance minister, who ordered the March heist.


0435 GMT: Monday's battle between regime troops and forces of a dissident tribal leader, Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, expanded yesterday. Almost 40 people were  killed in the fighting that began near al-Ahmar's house and spread through the capital Sanaa. Tribesmen reportedly took over the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Education. 

On the political front, there were no move 48 hours after President Saleh rebuffed a deal for the transition of power.

Journalists reported loud explosions in the Libyan capital Tripoli last night, rocking buildings in the centre of the city.

A demonstration in Hama in Syria last night:

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