Women burst into journalist hotel in Libya saying she was raped by Qadhafi paramilitaries, she is dragged out by security forces

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Bruised and bloodied, Libyan woman bursts in on journalists to tell of her ordeal
A woman eludes security to reach a roomful of journalists at a hotel to tell of her abduction and rape at the hands of Moammar Kadafi’s forces. The reporters take notes and document her injuries before she is taken away. She was panting from her scuffle with staff members when she burst into the breakfast room at the hotel where the foreign journalists were staying. Crying, she struggled to tell a story of abduction and rape at the hands of Moammar Kadafi’s security forces.

The Lede: Video of Libyan Woman Dragged Away From Foreign Press Corps
Video of a Libyan woman who burst into a hotel in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and attempted to tell a story of rape and abuse to foreign journalists before she was dragged away by members of the Qaddafi government.

And more news from the Arab uprisings:

Video: Civilian car hit by snipers in Misrata, Killing Driver
March 26, 2011: The cameraman surveys multiple bullet shots on a civilian car by Gaddafi snipers that killed a driver on March 25, 2011 in Misrata. At the end of the video you can see the blood filled driver’s seat wear Said Swayd, a regular civilian, was killed. God rest his soul and grant his family patience.

Bodies of Massacred Children in Misrata
No date available: The cameraman wails in disbelief as he surveys the dead bodies of a family in a demolished home in Misrata. What looks to be the result of tank shelling, helpless children’s little body parts lie severed.  This is an unbearable scene, even for grown men, but the truth of Gaddafi’s horrifying acts must be shown.

Libya may be placing corpses at bombed sites -Gates
WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) – U.S. intelligence reports suggest that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces have placed the bodies of people they have killed at the sites of coalition air strikes so they can blame the West for the deaths, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in a television interview on Saturday.

Gaddafi’s men kidnap thousands in Zawiyah – rebel
RABAT, March 25 (Reuters) – Government forces have kidnapped and beaten up residents of Zawiyah since recapturing the city near the capital Tripoli two weeks ago, a rebel spokesman said. “The (Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s) battalions have deployed checkpoints at every crossroad and street in the city,” spokesman Ibrahim said by telephone from Zawiyah.

Video: Gaddafi forces continuously bomb minaret in Misrata till it collapses

Video: Mosque in Zintan Shelled

Gaddafi promotes entire army
Libya ruler promotes all army members; US: Attacks reduce Gaddafi’s control over troops.

Libyan leader ‘arming volunteers’
Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi is reportedly arming volunteers to fight the uprising against his rule, a US official says.

Gaddafi’s invisible force
Recently, there have been numerous assassination attempts on leading rebels in their eastern stronghold of Benghazi. Libyans fighting to depose Muammar Gaddafi say he is using hitmen – an invisible force – to carry out targeted killings. Some documents have been found, detailing those set to be killed. And many more so-called ‘Gadaffi lists’ are thought to exist. Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports from Benghazi.

Libyan Resistance Makes Advances
Libyan rebels claim to have taken Brega
Anti-government forces continue to advance, retake eastern Libyan city of Brega hours after recapturing Ajdabiya. Meanwhile, Gaddafi forces launch attacks on Misrata

Libyan rebels recapture oil town Ajdabiya
Libyan opposition fighters have recaptured the strategic Ajdabiya, a key oil town just 160 kilometres from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Pro-democracy fighters claim to have moved past Brega further to the west, and that they are heading towards Ras Lanuf, another oil-rich town. Ajdabiya is the first town to fall back into the hands of pro-democracy fighters, since the air strikes by international forces began on March 20. British officials say those raids destroyed seven government tanks which threatened the city overnight. Al Jazeera’s James Bays has the latest from Ajdabiya. (26 March 2011)

Ajdabiya victory spurs rebel advancement
It has been a week since coalition countries began their bombing campaign to impose restrictions on Libya’s government. That air raid has helped opposition fighters retake the strategic town of Ajdabiya, and they are also claiming the oil town of Brega. It is yet another major milestone in the battle for Libya. Al Jazeera’s James Bays reports from Ajdabiya on the advance of the pro-democracy forces. (26 March 2011)

Coalition Attacks on Libya
Air strikes hit Gaddafi forces in Misrata-rebels
ALGIERS/BEIRUT, March 26 (Reuters) – Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi eased their bombardment of the rebel-held city of Misrata on Saturday after Western air strikes hit some of their positions, a rebel spokesman said. But a resident said pro-Gaddafi snipers were still shooting at people from rooftops in the centre of the town and that the death toll during the past week had reached 115 people, including several children.

Air strikes hit Sabha in central Libya – Libyan TV
TUNIS, March 26 (Reuters) – Western air strikes have targeted military and civilian areas in the town of Sabha, Libyan state television reported on Saturday, quoting a military source. It gave no further details. Sabha lies south of the capital Tripoli, in central Libya.

French forces destroy seven Libyan aircraft on ground
PARIS, March 26 (Reuters) – French warplanes have destroyed five Libyan military planes and two helicopters at Misrata air base in the past 24 hours, France’s armed forces said. Armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard said all seven Libyan aircraft were destroyed while on the ground at the base, near the insurgent-held town of Misrata, as they were preparing to carry out attacks in the area.

Attacks reduce Gaddafi’s military control -US admiral
WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) – Coalition attacks on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces have reduced his ability to exercise command over his ground forces and there are reports he has begun arming volunteers, U.S. Vice Admiral Bill Gortney said on Friday. Gortney, the director of the U.S. military’s Joint Staff, said U.S. forces were preparing to hand off control of the no-fly zone over Libya to NATO command but would remain responsible for air-to-ground attacks to protect civilians until an agreement can be reached for their handover.

Humanitarian Crisis
Egyptian Refugees in Misrata Plead for Help
Egyptians makes a plea for rescue from the city of Misrata, which has been heavily under fire, on Friday, March 25th.

Libya immigrants call for aid to homeland
Jamal Tarhuni is one of many Libya immigrants worldwide calling for aid to their embattled homeland. Here are some organizations providing on-the-ground relief.

African workers fleeing Libya stranded
SALUM, Egypt, March 25 (Reuters) – Hundreds of poor African migrant workers, including many women and children, waited to be evacuated on Friday from this dusty Egyptian border post after fleeing a revolt against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Other Developments/News
Hard to change Libya arms ban to aid rebels-Portugal
UNITED NATION, March 25 (Reuters) – Portugal, which chairs the U.N. Libya sanctions committee, voiced doubts on Friday about the possibility of amending a U.N. arms embargo for Libya to allow the arming of rebels in the North African state. The U.N. Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya on Feb. 26 along with travel bans and asset freezes for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and members of his family and inner circle.

Obama says Libya mission averted ‘blood bath’
In his weekly radio address, President Obama says U.S. military force in Libya has saved countless lives. He stresses that American involvement in the international coalition is limited and denies that it will draw the nation into a wider war. President Obama said Saturday that he sent U.S. warplanes into Libya a week ago to avert a “humanitarian catastrophe” and a “blood bath,” and he denied that the U.S. is being drawn into a wider war there.

Obama under pressure to find exit strategy as Nato forms three-month plan
President Barack Obama was under growing pressure last night to explain how he would extricate the United States from a third military campaign in the Islamic world, as splits within Nato ensured that his country remained at the forefront of the Libyan bombing campaign.

Muammar Gaddafi’s Son, Khamis Gaddafi, Toured U.S. In Weeks Before Libya Conflict
WASHINGTON (AP) — A son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi toured U.S. ports and military facilities just weeks before he helped lead deadly attacks on rebels protesting his father’s authoritarian regime. Khamis Gaddafi, 27, spent four weeks in the U.S. as part of an internship with AECOM, a global infrastructure company with deep business interests in Libya, according to Paul Gennaro, AECOM’s Senior Vice President for Global Communications. The trip was to include visits to the Port of Houston, Air Force Academy, National War College and West Point, Gennaro said.

In Libya, a campaign to confuse
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, with his claims of total popular support and theatrical displays at bombing sites, treads a fine line between rhetoric and reality.

Video Interview (#2) with Ali Ahmida on Libya and Intervention
[This interview was conducted by Jadaliyya Co-Editor, Noura Erakat, on March 24, 2011] In this second interview, Ali Ahmida (bio here) discusses the balance of power on the ground in Libya. On March 18th, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 and effectively imposed a no-fly zone over Libya’s airspace in response to what many anticipated would be a bloodbath in Benghazi. The next day, French and British air forces began aerial bombardment of Libya with broad international support including from the Arab League, and  particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. The intervention has sparked heated debate amongst advocates, scholars, and lawmakers about the virtues and ills of intervention as well as meaning of solidarity with the Libyan people. In this interview, Professor Ali Ahmida engages these topics and provides an insightful analysis of the shifting balance of power on the ground.

Syrian authorities release 260 prisoners – lawyer
AMMAN, March 26 (Reuters) – Syrian authorities released 260 prisoners, mostly Islamists, from Saydnaya jail on Friday, a human rights lawyer said. “These are prisoners who have completed at least three-quarters of their sentences and are entitled to be freed but the authorities rarely granted them that right before,” the rights lawyer, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Assad adviser warns of sectarian strife in Syria
AMMAN, March 26 (Reuters) – Syria is the target of a “project to sow sectarian strife”, an adviser to President Bashar al-Assad said on Saturday. “It is obvious Syria is the target of a project to sow sectarian strife to compromise Syria and the unique co-existence model that distinguishes it,” Bouthaina Shaaban was quoted as saying by SANA, the state’s official news agency.

Anger in Syria over security crackdown
Anti-government protesters regroup following a huge crackdown by security forces which claimed at least 20 lives.

Syrian gov’t blames Palestinians for unrest
from ynet – News(Video) President Bashar Assad’s adviser says clashes result of ‘foreign schemes’ aimed at destabilizing Syria adding number of foreign nationals have been arrested. Violence in Latakia, she says, was started by Palestinians aiming to ignite a civil war

Syria Protests: Two Americans Detained During Demonstrations
CAIRO — Syrian authorities have detained two Americans amid an unprecedented wave of protests in the repressive Middle East nation, relatives and state media said Saturday. Syria’s state news agency Sana alleged that a man with dual U.S.-Egyptian citizenship had “confessed” to selling photos and videos of demonstrations to a Colombian woman. He was later identified by relatives as Mohammed Radwan, 32, of Austin, Texas.

Saudi dirty hands
Just like in the Iranian opposition, there are elements–elements, not all–in the Syrian opposition.  They operate through the criminal and corrupt Rif`at Asad (who in turn works for Saudi Arabia) and through the Muslim Brotherhood.  Note that Saudi propaganda claimed that there were members of Hizbullah involved in repression in Iran, just as they now claim that there are members of Hizbullah in Syria, as the repressive regimes require the assistance of few Hizbullah fighters.  This is a clear Saudi agenda, just as Israel claimed in the July Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were found dead in South Lebanon–and Saudi media of course “reported” that with zest.  Syrian opposition is very rich and varied, and it is important that Saudi Arabia does not hijack it as it did in Libya.

Thoughts on some friends’ Syria analysis, Issandr El Amrani
Over at Syria Comment, Josh Landis highlights three pieces by Syria hands on the situation there. Two of them are by friends, and I’d like to comment on those. Peter Harling is a great Syria-watcher at ICG. His piece argues that the regime should act now to embrace genuine reforms rather than try to ignore the problem, and makes a convincing case for it. Yet one wonders whether even he understates the fundamental nature of the threat now faced by almost every Arab regime, and that it might simply be too late for reform: rupture is what is needed, including the prospect that the Assad family might not hold Syria’s presidency forever. The Syrian regime has never given any indication that it is interested in real reform. Why trust it now, except to avoid bloodshed? Of course ICG (which I used to work for) is in the business of conflict prevention (usually — sometimes it favors military intervention) and Harling appears convinced that the Assad regime is still on a solid footing. But what happened in Egypt and Tunisia suggests that the strongest of regimes can turn out to be paper tigers, and caution on Syria could be misplaced. I defer to his better understanding of the country (and the general agreement on this by Syria analysts that the regime is a) still strong and b) likely to react bloodily) but still feel it is necessary to highlight that the Assad regime is probably incapable of reform and that any transition in Syria is almost inevitably going to be violent.

Bahrain forces quash protests
Small protests broke out in Bahrain’s capital for a planned “Day of Rage” today despite a ban under martial law imposed last week, but were quickly crushed by security forces fanned out across Manama.

Iraq’s Maliki says Bahrain may ignite sectarian war (Reuters)
Reuters – Iraq’s Shi’ite prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, said on Friday military intervention by Sunni Arab neighbors in Bahrain could spark a sectarian war in the region and must end.

Man killed by teargas, Bahrain opposition says
MANAMA, March 25 (Reuters) – Bahrain’s leading opposition group said a 71-year-old man suffocated to death after police fired teargas near his home on Friday, but the government said he died of natural causes. Police broke up scattered protests in Manama using teargas during a planned “Day of Rage” which faded quickly because of a heavy security force presence across the city.

Ahlulbayt TV, “Fatima, Daughter of Bahraini Martyr Abdul al Rasul Hassan Ali al Hujairi”
“I am Fatima, the daughter of the martyr, and I am honored to have this title. I want to tell the world: I am brave, courageous, unafraid — that’s what my father used to say — and now I have become braver and braver, thanks to my dear father.”

Yemen: President ‘to step down’ to secure peaceful transition
A deal on a peaceful transition of power in Yemen is imminent and will be based on an offer by President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down by the end of the year, the Foreign Minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, said yesterday.

Saudi Arabia

Hundreds of Saudi Shi’ites protest in east
RIYADH, March 25 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Saudi Shi’ites staged a protest in the kingdom’s oil-producing Eastern Province on Friday calling for prisoner releases and a withdrawal of Saudi forces from Bahrain, activists said. The world’s No. 1 oil producer and a U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia has not seen the kind of mass uprisings that have rocked the Arab world this year. But dissent is simmering in the kingdom as unrest takes root in neighbouring Yemen, Bahrain and Oman.

Pro-monarchy group attacks pro-reform protest in Jordan
AMMAN, March 25 (Reuters) – Dozens of pro-monarchy demonstrators hurled stones and yelled profanities at protesters calling for political reform in a confrontation near the Interior Ministry on Friday, a witness said. Islamist, leftist, liberal and tribal figures have staged protests and sit-ins over the past few weeks calling for a constitutional monarchy. But the demonstrations have been on a much smaller scale than elsewhere across the Arab world.

Jordan PM: says clash unacceptable, blames Islamists
BEIRUT, March 25 (Reuters) – Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit said clashes between pro-monarchy and pro-reform protesters, was the beginning of chaos and warned of consequences if similar clashes occurred. The prime minister also blamed opposition Islamist group for the clash, which left one person dead after police attempted to disperse the protest near the Interior Ministry. “What happened today is definitely the start of chaos and it is unacceptable and I warn of the consequences,” Bakhit told Jordanian television. Addressing Islamists, he said: “I ask you, where are you taking Jordan?”

Patrick Cockburn: Every tyrant makes the same mistake in the Arab uprisings
The despots who have ruled the Arab world for half a century are not giving up without a fight. In the southern Syrian city of Dara, security forces last week machine-gunned pro-democracy protesters in a mosque, killing 44 of them, and then faked evidence to pretend they were a gang of kidnappers. In the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, a few days earlier, snipers firing from high buildings shot dead or wounded 300 people at a rally demanding the President step down.

Dictator March Madness Bracket
MSNBC host Cenk Uygur shares a March Madness ‘Dictator Backet’ predicting which dictators will last and which will fall.

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