Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our interactive map explaining the roots of the unrest in each country and full coverage of the situation in Libya. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport. CNN's Fareed Zakaria breaks down what the movements toward democracy mean.
Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:
[LIBYA, 3:55 p.m. ET, 10:55 p.m.]The USS Ponce and the USS Kearsarge have traversed the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean, a U.S. official said. The two ships have been sent with humanitarian relief equipment to aid in Libyan relief and evacuation efforts. The ships join the USS Stout, USS Barry and the USS Mount Whitney in the Mediterranean.
[LIBYA, 10:11 a.m. ET, 5:11 p.m.] At least four people have been killed and 23 have been wounded in the fighting Wednesday between pro-Gadhafi forces and the opposition in the town of al-Brega, a doctor who runs a hospital in the area told CNN.
[LIBYA, 9:37 a.m. ET,Â 4:37 p.m. local] The International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is opening an investigation into the situation in Libya, the court said in a statement Wednesday.
[LIBYA, 9:09 a.m. ET, 4:09 local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi abrubtly ended a 2-hour, 20-minute speech by saying, "The American president will leave office, the European leaders will leave their offices, and Gadhafi will still be a leader."
[LIBYA, 9:03 a.m. ET, 4:03 p.m. local] Two hours into his speech, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi mentioned President Obama.
"I think Obama is quite reasonable," he said. "He is not a yankee like Bush or Clinton, he's a reasonable person. He's capable to avoid another Iraq or Afghanistan. ... (However,) if they want to challenge us, we accept the challenge. Then we will distribute arms to 2 or 3 million and we won't care about killing them. We will defend the honor of all our innocent people. ... We will enter an honorable battle."
Gadhafi said if his country's rebellion cannot be resolved peacefully, "we'll see what can be done."
[LIBYA, 8:50 a.m. ET, 3:50 p.m. local] "We cannot allow what isÂ happening in Benghazi to carry on," Moammar Gadhafi said. "Parents must take arms away from our children, and those who are behind them must be known. ... It's no longer a joke as they imagined it."
He said those who want to flee the country, including rebels, are free to go.
"Anyone who wants to leave, let them go. We pardon them, now allow them to leave. ... When you surround your enemy, you always allow a camp in which he can withdraw. ... The borders are open."
However, Gadhafi threatened to cut off food and water to areas where rebellion continues.
"You will have no future," he said.
[LIBYA, 8:43 a.m. ET, 3:43 p.m. local] A man stood up in the midst of Libyan leader Gadhafi's speech and shouted, "Gadhafi is not alone! Seven million Libyans surround him!"
[LIBYA, 8:32 a.m. ET, 3:32 p.m. local] Libya is a stabilizing force in the Mediterranean, leader Moammar Gadhafi said.
"If Libya is destabilized, if Libya ceases to exist, you'll see what kind of destruction will happen to the countries of the Mediterranean," he said. "Barbarism and piracy and bin Laden and jihad will come. Is that what you want?"
He also promised to be lenient with young people who have participated in anti-government demonstrations. "We will educate them," he said.
[LIBYA, 8:26 a.m. ET, 3:26 p.m. local] Libya's Moammar Gadhafi said the West should understand Libya's value apart from oil. "It's Libya who is stopping illegal immigration in the Mediterranean. It's Libya who is stopping (Osama) bin Laden in North Africa," he said.
[LIBYA, 8:02 a.m. ET, 3:02 p.m. local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi criticized and even joked about the U.N. Security Council's move to freeze Libyan assets.
"They don't have the right or the legitimacy to freeze Libyan assets," he said. "... It's looting, that's quite clear to the naked eye. ... I found it funny when they said they would attach my assets. I have no assets. I said give me some assets. Give me one million dinar. My assets are history, the people."
But he turned serious and said the Libyan people would not stand for such "piracy."
[LIBYA, 7:41 a.m. ET, 2:41 p.m. local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said impressionable young people are easily led astray by wrong ideas, especially when foreign agents give them "hallucinogenic tablets" that make them vulnerable to "poisonous ideology."
[LIBYA, 7:33 a.m. ET, 2:33 p.m. local] "Peaceful demonstrations are taking place in the streets and squares," Gadhafi said. If anyone wants to disrupt these demonstrations, "Libya will stay strong and we will get rid of these," he said.
"We will investigate the violence in Benghazi to see who was the aggressor and who was the victim. Those who were killed were members of armed gangs," he said.
Gadhafi dared the United Nations to send fact-finders to learn if there were any killings of civilians.
The U.N. Security Council went beyond its charter to interfere in domestic matters when it passed a resolution imposing sanctions on Libya, he said.
Libya allies India and Brazil voted for the resolution, Gadhafi said, because the Libyan delegate came to them and asked them to support it, "and then he fled."
"Traitor! Traitor!" audience members chanted.
[LIBYA, 7:21 a.m. ET, 2:21 p.m. local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said foreign powers are trying to steal Libya's oil.
"We will fight until the last man and woman perishes in Libya, from north to south," he declared to cheers and chants from his listeners.
[LIBYA, 7:15 a.m. ET, 2:15 p.m. local] Gadhafi said police stations have been attacked, and the police "of course" have fought back. He compared the situation to the FBI's 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian sect compound in Waco, Texas, and to Palestinian reprisal attacks on Israel.
[LIBYA, 7:12 a.m. ET, 2:12 p.m. local] Gadhafi gave his version of how the current conflict in his country started, saying a foreign "sleeping tiger cell" in the eastern city of Benghazi rose up against the people and took up arms. The people responded and put down the uprising, he said.
He denied that there had been any public demonstrations against him or any other incidents.
"It's 100% lies. No demonstration in Benghazi in any way."
He also denied that any civilians had been fired on by the military.
Reports on foreign satellite channels were false, he said. "There were no correspondents in Libya," he said.
Gadhafi also denied that there are any political prisoners in Libya.
[LIBYA, 7:03 a.m. ET, 2:03 p.m. local] "I was surprised by the demonstrations sweeping the country carrying placards and posters," Gadhafi said. "And I said, 'Is someone complaining about me?' 'There is a challenge,' they said. 'Where is it coming from?' I asked them. 'From abroad,' they said."
His talk was interrupted by chants of: "Muhammad and Libya, and that's it."
"Gadhafi has no authority which he can relinquish," he said when the chanting died down. "It's foreign stations that are behind it. It's coming from abroad."
[LIBYA, 6:56 a.m. ET, 1:56 p.m. local] "Power is to the people and there is no other power," Gadhafi said.
"There is no place for a king or a president or a mediator in the Jamahiriya system. No law is made without the approval of the people's conferences. ... I was the leader of a revolution in 1969, and I then retired to my tent. ... I do not practice any authority. I encourage the people to take power. The Libyan people, I say over and over again, is free to practice power."
[LIBYA, 6:50 a.m. ET, 1:50 p.m. local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi spoke on the anniversary of the 1977 law establishing Libya's "people power" political system. He said he and three other military officers led a revolution in 1969 and then handed power over to the people, adding that he holds no position of authority in the government.
"Since that time we did not assume any power, and we threw away the forces of the American and the British and we liberated the Libyan soil and its wealth from colonial powers and handed it to the Libyan people," Gadhafi said.
[LIBYA, 5:14 a.m. ET, 12:14 p.m. local] Opposition members have taken back the eastern Libyan town of al-Brega, a resident told CNN. Armed forces supporting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had moved into the town earlier Wednesday. The resident said there were fatalities in the fight, but the number is unclear.
Al-Brega is home to a small airport and an oil refinery facility.
[IRAQ, 4:31 a.m. ET, 12:31 p.m. local] Five roadside bombs exploded in four Baghdad neighborhoods Wednesday morning, killing a civilian and wounded 19 others, including five Iraqi soldiers, the interior ministry said.
[LIBYA, 3:29 a.m. ET, 10:39 a.m. local] Military camps on the outskirts of Ajdabiya were being bombed by military airplanes Wednesday morning, a tribal leader said. The youth of Ajdabiya were amassing and heading toward the conflict area to defend the city.
The tribal leader also said the town of al-Brega - about 80 kilometers to the west - was taken Wednesday morning by forces supporting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The town is home to a small airport and an oil refinery facility.
Both towns had been in opposition control in recent days.
[LIBYA, 2:35 a.m. ET, 9:35 a.m. local] A series of explosions Wednesday morning in the Libyan capital of Tripoli were caused by an overturned fuel truck with four fuel compartments, witnesses said.
[LIBYA, 2:10 a.m. ET, 9:10 a.m. local] Four large explosions were heard Wednesday morning in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, with flames visible in at least one location.
"They were about five to 10 seconds apart," said CNN's Nic Roberston, who said the explosions took place in central Tripoli. "You can hear sirens rushing into the area."
The cause of the explosions was not immediately known. Government officials were not allowing journalists to get close to the scene.FULL STORY