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Category: North Africa

LIBYA: NATO and rebel forces attack Kadafi hometown

NATO and rebel forces attacked holdout forces loyal to Moammar Kadafi in the capital and Kadafi's hometown of Surt to the east on Friday.

British warplanes pounded a “large headquarters bunker" overnight in Surt, British Defense Ministry officials told CNN on Friday. Tornado aircraft also fired precision-guided missiles into the city, which lies on Libya's central coast.

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ALGERIA: In no hurry to recognize Libyan rebel government

Algiers Algeria will not recognize Libyan rebels' new government until it makes a strong commitment to fight Al Qaeda in North Africa, an Algerian government source told Reuters.

The high-ranking source, who asked not to be identified, also said Algeria, a U.S. ally in the campaign against Al Qaeda, had evidence that Libyan militants it had handed over to Moammar Kadafi's government are now at large in Libya and some have joined the rebels.

“There is proof that Libyan Islamists who were delivered by Algeria to Tripoli have managed to flee and join the rebels. We even saw one of them on Al Jazeera television, speaking in the name of the NTC,” said the source, referring to the rebels' National Transitional Council government.

More than 30 countries recognize the NTC as the legitimate representative of Libya.

The Algerian press has carried reports [link in French] about ongoing fighting in Tripoli.

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LIBYA: African mercenaries' fate uncertain [video]


Concern is increasing that Libyan rebels may take justice into their own hands, performing revenge killings, particularly of African mercenaries hired by Moammar Kadafi's forces to suppress the uprising.

In an apparent effort to safeguard against such claims later on, some rebels have posted videos online showing how they treat captured mercenaries.

In one video posted Wednesday, a rebel walks down a line of mercenaries captured in Tripoli, asking them questions in Arabic, including where they're from. Many say Sudan and Chad.

All are thin, clothing hanging off their frames. They appear to be in good health, although some have unexplained marks on their faces. Their clothes appear clean. One wears a baseball cap, another an Adidas jacket.

Some appear to be boys. They seem more resigned than afraid.

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LIBYA: U.S. pushes U.N. resolution to unfreeze Libyan assets

U.S. officials plan to present a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council Wednesday asking members to unfreeze $1.5 billion in Libyan assets, a council diplomat told Reuters.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he did not expect a vote on the resolution on Wednesday.

“It's for urgent humanitarian needs in Libya,” the diplomat said.



The diplomat said the decision to submit a draft resolution came after the Security Council's Libya sanctions committee failed to act on a similar request by U.S. officials earlier this month.

A diplomat told Reuters that South African officials had objected to the unfreezing of Libyan assets. Another diplomat said U.S. and South African officials were discussing the issue. A third diplomat said South Africa was not alone in objecting to the release of Libya's assets, that Russia and others had reservations about the proposal to aid the rebel government, whose forces claimed to control most of Tripoli Wednesday.

"People want to make sure that the money isn't going to be used by one side for military action," the diplomat told Reuters.

The committee works on the basis of consensus, which means all 15 members have a virtual veto. By presenting a resolution to the council, the United States would bypass the committee. Council resolutions need nine votes and no vetoes from the five permanent council members to pass.

If the committee members' objections remain, the U.S. delegation could call for a vote on the resolution Thursday or Friday, a diplomat told Reuters.

The United States hopes to be able to announce the release of up to $1.5 billion to the rebels on Thursday, when Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns attends a meeting in Istanbul of members of the Libyan Contact Group, a U.S. official told Reuters.

"We are not quite there yet at the [Security] Council but I understand we are making progress," said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


Kadafi addresses nation

Rebel leaders say transition 'begins immediately'

Search for Kadafi goes on as rebels seize compound

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

LIBYA: Rebels still meeting resistance in Tripoli

TajuraAs thousands of Libyans celebrate the rebel advance into Tripoli, opposition leaders say they are still meeting sporadic resistance from forces loyal to  leader Moammar Kadafi.

"I warn you, there are still pockets of resistance in and around Tripoli," senior rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril said on the opposition Al Ahrar television channel, according to Agence France-Presse. "The fight is not over yet. God willing, in a few hours our victory will be complete."

Timeline: Rebellion in Libya

He urged Libyans not to take revenge against Kadafi supporters, saying the world is watching.

"Today, as we celebrate victory, I appeal to your conscience and to your responsibility: Don't get carried away. Do not avenge yourselves, don't pillage, don't insult foreigners and respect the prisoners," he was quoted as saying.

Sky News special correspondent Alex Crawford, who was with rebel fighters, reported that they met no opposition when they swept into Tripoli’s main square, the symbolic heart of the city. But CNN’s Sara Sidner later tweeted that the square emptied when rumors spread that forces loyal to Kadafi were approaching.

"Green square nearly empty," she said in a tweet. "We were warned to get out. Rebels say Gadhafi troops advancing toward square."

Journalists in the city also reported hearing heavy gunfire from the area around Kadafi's compound.


Obama: Kadafi "no longer controls Libya"

Gunshots erupt during interview with Kadafi's son

Analysis: Mountain rebels may have turned tide in Tripoli

-- Alexandra Zavis

Photo: Rebels celebrate in Tajura, a suburb of Tripoli, Credit: AFP/Getty Images

LIBYA: Gunshots erupt during interview with Kadafi's son


An interview with Mohammed Kadafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi, took a dramatic turn when gunfire erupted in the background and the phone line went dead.

In the interview with Al Jazeera Arabic, the younger Kadafi said he had surrendered to rebel forces who besieged his home.

“The rebels who apprehended me were very cordial and have not harmed me,” he said, according to a translation provided above by Al Jazeera English. “This is a very positive sign, not only for me but for all Libyans.”

Photos: Battle for Tripoli, ongoing conflict in Libya

He expressed regret for the bloodshed in Libya.

“The absence of wisdom and foresight is what brought us here today,” he said. “Our differences could have been solved very easily."

Then gunshots could be heard in the background.

“I’m being attacked right now,” he said. “This is gunfire inside my house, they’re inside my house.”

The head of the opposition Transitional National Council told Al Jazeera that Mohammed Kadafi was not hurt. Another son, Seif Islam, who was Kadafi's onetime heir apparent, also has been captured.


Timeline: Rebellion in Libya

Obama: Kadafi "no longer controls Libya"

Rebel fighters and supporters pour into Green Square

-- Alexandra Zavis

LIBYA: Obama says momentum against Kadafi at 'tipping point'

With rebels pressing into the heart of Tripoli, President Obama issued a statement late Sunday saying that the momentum against Moammar Kadafi’s regime has reached a "tipping point" and calling on the Libyan leader to step down.

"The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator," Obama said.

"The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all."

Photos: Battle for Tripoli, ongoing conflict in Libya

At the same time, Obama urged rebel forces to respect the rights of the people of Libya, avoid civilian casualties, protect the institutions of state and pursue a just and inclusive transition to democracy.

"A season of conflict must lead to one of peace," Obama said.

White House aides said the president is receiving regular briefings on Libya while on a family vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Read the full statement after the jump.

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LIBYA: Rebel fighters and supporters pour into Green Square

Rebel fighters and their supporters poured into the Libyan capital's main square early Monday, firing weapons into the air and waving opposition flags on what had been the stage for nightly demonstrations in support of Moammar Kadafi’s regime.

Television footage from Green Square, which the rebels are now calling Martyrs Square, showed men ripping down posters of Kadafi and setting fire to the green flag of his regime as others danced and flashed victory signs.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr was with the rebels when they entered the square. 

Photos: Battle for Tripoli, ongoing conflict in Libya

"There's a party in the Libyan capital tonight," she said. "The people are in charge. They've decided the square is now called Martyrs Square, the original name. They're shouting "We're free" and even shooting at Kadafi's poster."

There were similar scenes of jubilation in the rebels' de facto capital, Benghazi, where thousands celebrated in the streets.

The rebels met little resistance Sunday as they swept into the heart of the Libyan capital, backed by NATO airstrikes and uprisings in neighborhoods across Tripoli. But the poorly trained and undisciplined fighters have made dramatic advances in the past only to be pushed back by Kadafi loyalists.

Kadafi's whereabouts were unknown Monday.


Timeline: Rebellion in Libya

Libyan rebels enter Tripoli, meet sporadic resistance

Obama says momentum against Kadafi at 'tipping point'

-- Alexandra Zavis 

Photo: Thousands celebrate in Benghazi as rebel fighters push into the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Credit: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images 

MIDDLE EAST: Carnegie launches new tool to track the 'Arab Spring'

Carnegie tool

Babylon & Beyond's content partner is offering a new interactive tool for people trying to keep up with the unrest across the Arab world and Iran. 

Carnegie logo As change quickly sweeps through the Middle East and North Africa, the Carnegie Endowment is offering unique country-by-country daily news roundups of developments in the region.

The roundups, collected from both Arabic- and English-language news outlets, cover the latest news from countries and areas in the Middle East currently experiencing protests and/or undergoing fundamental change.

They include updates from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

The Middle East news roundups offer policymakers, academics, journalists and members of the general public informative and up-to-date brief daily news resources for their work and research on the region, provided in an easy-to-read account of the most recent and critical developments in the Middle East.

To access the feature, use the Carnegie interactive map.

-- Los Angeles Times

LIBYA: Kadafi chess match a diplomatic draw

The chess encounter in Tripoli between Moammar Kadafi and the president of the World Chess Federation has caused a stir in both the Russian and Libyan news media.

Libyan state television on Monday was showing over and over Monday the odd scene of Kadafi squaring off a day earlier against Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the international chess czar from Russia.

The somewhat surreal scene of Kadafi mulling his next move as NATO bombers soared overhead and rebels battled government troops close to Tripoli resonated widely among Libya-watchers.

The Libyan leader appeared contemplative in his signature shades, black cap and black cloak as he moved the pieces in what appeared to be a ceremonial room untouched by recent bombing raids.

"Very calm," is how Ilyumzhinov described his opponent, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

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LIBYA: Moammar Kadafi plays chess with visiting World Chess Federation president


Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi, besieged by rebels and Western-led bombing runs, took time Sunday to play some chess with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the World Chess Federation, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

Kadafi told Ilyumzhinov that he had no intention of stepping down as leader of Libya, Interfax said.

“I am neither premier nor president nor king,” Interfax quoted Kadafi as saying during the meeting. “I do not hold any post in Libya and therefore I have no position that I should give up.”

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TUNISIA: High death toll challenges claims of smooth transition

At least 300 Tunisians died during the monthlong uprising that culminated in the overthrow of the regime of Zine el Abedine ben Ali, reported Juan Mendez, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, after completing his first mission to the country since the establishment of the interim government. 

The death toll in the country of 10 million, signficantly higher than previous figures, came as a surprise to those who considered the revolution to have been a smooth and peaceful transition. 

"Another 700 were injured," said the special rapporteur citing information provided by the interim Tunisian administration. 

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