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Posts Tagged ‘Benghazi’

Libyan Airspace ‘Under Control’ As Two Sides Meet

Huffpost- First Posted: 03/25/11 08:48 AM Updated: 03/25/11 08:48 AM

BENGHAZI, Libya — France declared Libya’s airspace “under control” on Friday, after NATO agreed to take command of the no-fly zone in a compromise that appeared to set up dual command centers and possibly new confusion. Coalition warplanes struck Moammar Gadhafi’s forces outside the strategic eastern gateway city of Ajdabiya.

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Representatives for the regime and the rebels were expected to meet formally for the first time Friday, in Ethiopia, in what the U.N. described as a part of an effort to reach a cease-fire and political solution.

The overnight French and British strikes on an artillery battery and armored vehicles were intended to give a measure of relief to Ajdabiya, where residents have fled or cowered under more than a week of shelling and fighting between rebels and government troops. Explosions also could be heard in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, before daybreak Friday, apparently from airstrikes.

“Libyan airspace is under control, and we proved it yesterday, because a Libyan plane in the hands of pro-Gadhafi forces, which had just taken off from Misrata in order to bomb Misrata, was destroyed by a French Rafale,” Adm. Edouard Guillaud said on France-Info radio.

But the compromise that puts NATO in charge of clearing the skies still leaves the U.S. responsible for the more difficult task of planning attacks on Gadhafi’s ground forces and other targets.

Ajdabiya has been under siege for more than a week, with the rebels holding the city center and scattered checkpoints but facing relentless shelling from government troops on the outskirts. Residents are without electicity or drinking water, and many have fled.

The U.S. military said coalition jets flew about 150 on Thursday, about 70 of them with American planes.

“The operation is still focusing on tanks, combat vehicles, air defense targets – really whatever equipment and personnel are threatening the no-fly zone or civilians on the ground in such locations as Ajdabiya and along some other areas on the coast,” Marine Corps Capt. Clint Gebke told reporters from aboard the USS Mount Whitney.

The U.S. has been trying to give up the lead role in the operation against Gadhafi’s forces, and NATO agreed late Thursday to assume one element of it – control of the no-fly zone.

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Morocco Joins Middle East Protests: Protesters Demand New Constitution, Economic Reforms

The Huffington Post/AP First Posted: 02/20/11 02:17 PM Updated: 02/20/11 02:17 PM

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RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Thousands of people marched in cities across Morocco on Sunday, demanding a new constitution to bring more democracy in the North African kingdom amid the wave of Arab world upheaval.

Demonstrators shouted slogans calling for economic opportunity, educational reform, better health services and help in coping with rising living costs during a march on central Hassan II Avenue in the capital, Rabat.

The day of demonstration was Morocco’s entree into the series of protests that have swept up North Africa and the wider Arab world after popular uprisings brought down longtime autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt.

The main target of Sunday’s rallies was parliament, where many Moroccans fear their voices are not heard. Still, the protests are likely to pressure King Mohammed VI, who has been seen as a reformer compared to his iron-fisted father, Hassan II, and who still holds absolute authority.

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Libya Protests: Anti-Government Demonstrations Spread

AP/The Huffington Post

MAGGIE MICHAEL  First Posted: 02/16/11 03:11 AM Updated: 02/16/11 10:56 AM

CAIRO — Hundreds of Libyans calling for the government’s ouster clashed with security forces early Wednesday in the country’s second-largest city as Egypt-inspired unrest spread to the country long ruled by Moammar Gadhafi. (Scroll down for live updates.)

Ashur Shamis, a Libyan opposition activist in London, and witnesses said the protest began Tuesday and lasted until the early hours Wednesday in the port city of Benghazi.

Demonstrators chanted “no God but Allah, Moammar is the enemy of Allah” and “Down, down to corruption and to the corrupt.” Police and armed government backers quickly clamped down on the protesters, firing rubber bullets, Shami said.

The outbreak of protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Iran has roiled the Middle East and brought unprecedented pressure on leaders like Gadhafi who have held virtually unchecked power for decades.

It also posed new challenges for the United States, which has strategic interests in each of the countries. President Barack Obama conceded Tuesday he is concerned about the region’s stability and prodded governments to get out ahead of the change.

As in the uprisings that toppled longtime autocratic rulers in two countries flanking Libya – Egypt and Tunisia – Libyan activists are used social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter to rally people in their homeland. They called for a major protest on Thursday.

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