N. Africa, Mideast protests: Libya's interior minister quits
Algerian students demonstrate against government policies Tuesday in Algiers.
February 22nd, 2011
09:32 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast protests: Libya's interior minister quits

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 story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

[LIBYA, 10:25 p.m. ET, 5:25 a.m. local] Via Twitter, the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs says U.S. citizens wishing to leave Libya should go to As-shahab Port as soon as possible after 9 a.m. and arrive no later than 10 a.m.

"U.S. government chartered ferry will depart for Valletta, Malta no later than 3 p.m. on Wednesday," the bureau said via Twitter.

Earlier, a senior administration official told CNN that the State Department is chartering ferries to take Americans from Tripoli's As-shahab port to Valletta, Malta on Wednesday.

[LIBYA, 10:18 p.m. ET, 5:18 a.m. local] With the United States unable to land any charter aircraft in Tripoli to fly U.S. citizens our of Libya on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department is chartering ferries to take travelers from Tripoli's As-shahab port to Valletta, Malta on Wednesday, according to a senior administration official not authorized to speak for attribution.

"Tomorrow the question will be if they let the ferry dock. If that happens, our people will flow out," the official said, adding that the reason the charter aircraft didn't land was because the Libyan authorities did not give them permission to do so.

Of the several thousand U.S. citizens in Libya, most are dual nationals; those solely with U.S. citizenship number about 600, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

The State Department issued a travel alert for non-essential staff to leave the country, an order affecting 35 employees and their families.

Crowley said the airport in Tripoli remained open in "challenging" circumstances. International carriers, he said, were making more seats available for departure.

[LIBYA, 9:32 p.m. ET, 4:32 a.m. local] The video below shows an interview with a Tripoli woman who says security forces there are trying "to not let anyone protest."

"They're trying so hard to show that the country is fine, the country is not falling, the regime is not falling, but that's not happening," she said.

[LIBYA, 8:40 p.m. ET, 3:40 a.m. local] A Libyan government spokesman, speaking on television, said U.S. and Israeli intelligence operatives were behind the unrest. "We will get rid of them, in collaboration with our people in the eastern province," he said.

He said Libyan authorities have asked those tribe members who have attacked barracks and police stations to return the weapons they had taken "because security and safety will return to normal." Referring to reports that the military had attacked civilians, he said, "We have reports and evidence they are not using arms unless against those who
attacked the barracks."

[LIBYA, 7:52 p.m. ET, 2:52 a.m. local] Abdul Fattah Younis al Abidi, who confirmed to CNN that he stepped down as Libya's interior minister, says Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is "a stubborn man" who will not give up.

"He will either commit suicide or he will get killed," said Abidi, who said he has known him since 1964.

[LIBYA, 6:56 p.m. ET, 1:38 a.m. local] Libya's interior minister has confirmed to CNN that he has quit the government and is supporting the protesters, who he predicted will achieve victory in a matter "of days or hours."

Ex-Interior Minister Abdul Fattah Younis al Abidi told CNN that he resigned Monday after hearing that some 300 unarmed civilians had been killed in Benghazi alone during the prior two to three days, and he accused Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi of planning to attack civilians on a wide scale.

"Gadhafi told me he was planning on using airplanes against the people in Benghazi and I told him that he will have thousands of people killed if he does that," Abidi said in an Arabic-language telephone interview conducted Wednesday.

[LIBYA, 6:38 p.m. ET, 1:38 a.m. local] Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, who on Monday accused Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi of genocide, told reporters at the U.N. on Tuesday that he again calls "on the regime to stop killing the Libyan people."

[LIBYA, 6:01 p.m. ET, 1:01 a.m. local] The United Nations Security Council in New York has issued a statement expressing grave concern about the Libyan crisis. The statement condemns the violence and the use of force against civilians and deplores the repression against peaceful demonstrators. Members of council called on the government of Libya to meet its responsibility to protect its population.

Tuesday's meeting was first time the council has held consultations over any of the revolts that have swept North African and Middle Eastern nations since January.

[LIBYA, 5:47 p.m. ET, 12:47 a.m. local] The following is video of a statement, made earlier today, by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said the United States is watching the situation in Libya with alarm and that bloodshed there "is completely unacceptable."

[LIBYA, 5:05 p.m. ET, 12:05 a.m. local] Libya's interior minister said he has quit the government and is
supporting the protesters, the news channel Al-Jazeera reported.

The channel aired video it said it obtained that showed Abdul Fattah Younis al Abidi at his desk reading a statement that also urged the armed forces to join the protesters "and to answer the protesters' legitimate demands." The channel did not say from where it obtained the video.

[YEMEN, 5:01 p.m. ET, 1:01 a.m. local] Government loyalists attacked and opened fire on anti-government sit-in participants in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, late Tuesday night, with at least three sit-in participants critically wounded and several more injured, according to sit-in participants and observers at the scene.

Students have been conducting a sit-in outside Sanaa University - one of several anti-government protests around the country Tuesday. Earlier in the day, sit-in participants had overturned a car and set it on fire after discovering weapons inside apparently brought to a demonstration by government loyalists, a protester said.

[LIBYA, 3:59 p.m. ET, 10:59 p.m. local] Analysts say that despite the uprising in Libya, longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is clinging to power in part because of a legacy of decentralized authority and divided tribal politics.

[ALGERIA, 3:49 p.m. ET, 9:49 p.m. local] More on the Algerian government's decision to lift a state of emergency that was imposed to combat an Islamist insurgency in 1992: The repeal lifts restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly. The country's Council of Ministers approved the repeal Tuesday, the state-run Algeria Press Service reported. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced earlier this month that the emergency declaration would be lifted.

[LIBYA, 2:56 p.m. ET, 9:56 p.m. local] The Arab League has suspended Libya's participation in Arab League meetings and all of the group's agencies, according to an official statement released by the body. The statement also condemned what it called crimes against protesters and peaceful strikers in Libya.

[LIBYA, 1:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local] The United States was unable to move any Americans out of Libya on Tuesday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. "We are working on this with Libyan authorities," he said.

The airport in Tripoli remains open but there are "challenging" circumstances at the airport, Crowley said. There are about 600 U.S. citizens in Libya, and several thousand with dual citizenship, he said.

[ALGERIA, 12:47 p.m. ET, 6:47 p.m. local] The Algerian government has agreed to lift a state of emergency imposed in 1992, the Algerian state news agency APS reported.

[LIBYA, 12:07 p.m. ET, 7:07 p.m. local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi wrapped up his speech after about 70 minutes, saying, "Let's go forward." He immediately got into a golf cart and was driven away, chased by about 25 cheering men, some carrying weapons. No other audience was evident from the video.

The speech - carried live on Libyan state television - was delivered from a balcony at a compound that the United States bombed in 1986, the Jamahiriya News Agency of Libya reported. The United States attacked the compound after implicating Libya in a bombing in West Berlin that resulted in the death of a U.S. service member.

After the speech concluded, Libyan television cut momentarily to a small orchestra, and then to a cheering crowd of Gadhafi supporters.

[LIBYA, 12:05 p.m. ET, 7:05 p.m. local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has called for a march across the country to round up opposition activists.

"We will march together in order to purify Libya. I am supported by millions and God, which is a great power. From Sahara to Sahara, millions will march with me," Gadhafi said in a speech carried live on Libyan state television.

[LIBYA, 11:59 a.m. ET, 6:59 p.m. local] An hour into his speech, carried live on Libyan state television, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said protesters in Benghazi are under the influence of "hallucination pills."

Loyal citizens should detain protesters and turn them over to authorities, he said.

"No one can allow his country to fall apart and fall into the hands of mad persons," he said.

[LIBYA, 11:46 a.m. ET, 6:46 p.m. local] Peaceful demonstrations about issues in other countries are acceptable, but complaints about Libya should be aired with public committees, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said in his speech on Libyan state television.

Youthful protesters would not be held responsible, because they were led astray by "parasites," he said.

"They were cheated, so they are not to be blamed," he said.

[LIBYA, 11:21 a.m. ET, 6:21 local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, defending his regime in a speech on Libyan state television, said power has been in the hands for the people for decades.

He said he caused the world to notice Libya and to respect it and its people.

"If I had a position in the government, I would have resigned. I would have thrown the resignation in your faces."

He said a "small, sick group" of outsiders infiltrated the country and provoked protests.

Gadhafi called on Libyans who "love and support" him to go out on the streets and demonstrate for him.

"Do you want to be slaves of the Americans?" he said.

He gave protesters until Wednesday to remove all placards and barricades. After that, the police and army will move forcefully against them, he said.

Opposition activists will be executed without mercy, he said.

"The will beg for pardon, but they will not be pardoned," he said.

Gadhafi aligned himself and his regime with al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, praising them for wishing to establish Islamic governments.

[LIBYA, 11:07 a.m., 6:07 p.m. local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, in his speech on Libyan state television, says he will not leave his country, but will die as "a martyr" if necessary. he denounced Arab satellite TV channels for distorting what he calls the real image of Libya.

[LIBYA, 10:58 a.m. ET, 5:58 p.m. local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is delivering a defiant speech on Libyan state television, blaming demonstrations on intelligence agents from other countries intent on returning Libya to colonial status.

"This is my country, the country of my grandfathers, of your grandfathers. We have irrigated it with our blood," he declared.

[LIBYA, 10:38 a.m. ET, 5:38 local] U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, urged all American and international oil companies to immediately cease operations in Libya.

"The Gadhafi government's use of deadly force against its own people should mean the end of the regime itself. It's beyond despicable, and I hope we are witnessing its last hours in power," Kerry's statement read in part. "... All American and international oil companies should immediately cease operations in Libya until violence against civilians ceases. The Obama administration also should consider re-imposing U.S. sanctions that were lifted during the Bush era."

[EGYPT, 9:38 a.m., 4:38 p.m. local] Two Iranian warships entered the Suez Canal on their way to the Mediterranean Sea, Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency reported, citing canal officials. They are the first such ships to sail through the Suez since the Islamic republic's 1979 revolution.

[LIBYA 9:19 a.m. ET, 4:19 p.m. local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi will address the nation shortly, Libyan state television reported.

[LIBYA, 8:43 a.m. ET, 3:43 p.m. local] A military plane from the Netherlands has been authorized to land in Tripoli to evacuate about 100 Dutch nationals, Dutch Ministry of Defense spokesman Capt. Andrew Bongers said Tuesday. The plane will leave Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in about an hour, he said.

[BAHRAIN, 8:28 a.m. ET, 4:28 p.m. local] CNN's Arwa Damon is among protesters in Manama. She tweets: "chants 'out 2 PM', 'govt must fall', 'no sunni, no shia, only bahraini' – now wild cheers erupting. police & military not seen"

[LIBYA, 8:07 a.m. ET, 3:07 p.m. local] The Libyan ambassador to the United States, Ali Aujali, called for longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to resign Tuesday in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

[BAHRAIN, 7:45 a.m. ET, 3:45 p.m. local] Thousands of protesters are marching through the center of Bahrain's capital in the biggest anti-government rally there yet.

[LIBYA, 7:28 a.m. ET, 2:28 p.m. local] The Libyan ambassador to Bangladesh, A.H. Elimam, has resigned and "deserted the authorities in Tripoli, siding with pro-democracy protesters," BSS, the official news agency of Bangladesh, said Tuesday, citing a Foreign Ministry official.

[LIBYA, 7:19 a.m. ET, 2:19 p.m. local] A NATO commander told CNN that a Dutch navy frigate, HNLMS Tromp, will travel to Libya for a possible evacuation operation of citizens and expatriates of the Netherlands and others. It is unclear when the operation would be able to take place. The ship can accommodate hundreds of people for a few days.

[LIBYA, 7 a.m. ET, 2 p.m. local] France has sent three planes to Libya to evacuate French citizens amid unrest in the North African nation, the French Foreign Ministry said. The French Embassy is helping get citizens to the airport, the ministry said.

[BAHRAIN, 6:26 a.m. ET, 2:28 p.m. local] The Bahraini government said Tuesday that seven people had died during protests in the nation and 25 people remained hospitalized. Protesters had given a higher death toll, placing the figure at 10 or 11.

[LIBYA, 6:18 a.m. ET, 1:18 p.m. local] Residents in Tripoli are reporting food shortages as the unrest in the Libyan capital and elsewhere continues. A man in the Gargaresh suburb of Tripoli reported seeing a number of gas stations closed because they had run out of fuel. He suspected it was another tactic by the government to limit people's ability to move around.

British Airways has canceled its Tuesday flight to Tripoli because of the ongoing unrest in Libya, the airline said.

[LIBYA, 5:34 a.m. ET, 12:34 p.m. local] Security forces in Libya have cordoned off the Fashloom area of Tripoli and are shooting anyone who moves on the streets - including those who are trying to retrieve bodies, said Mohamed Abdallah, spokesman for the National Front for the Salvation of Libya opposition group. Abdallah attributed the information to four eyewitnesses on the ground.

[LIBYA, 4:30 a.m. ET, 11:30 a.m. local] A senior source close to the Libyan government said ammunition depots had been attacked and that millions of pieces of ammunition and guns were "everywhere." The source said the country was fighting "Islamic extremists."

[LIBYA, 3:34 a.m. ET, 10:34 a.m. local] A witness in Tripoli said Tuesday morning that the situation remained tense in Libya's capital. "We heard a lot of gunshots, explosions, demonstrations and the sound of sirens," the witness said. The source added that firefighters have not been able to extinguish a fire at a government building and that a massive protest was expected for Tuesday night.

[LIBYA, 2:09 a.m. ET, 9:09 a.m. local] As Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi announced Tuesday that he was still in charge of the country, the U.N. Security Council readied to meet later in the day to discuss the spreading unrest there - the first time the council has held consultations over any of the revolts that have swept the Arab world since January.

[LIBYA, 1 a.m. ET, 8 a.m. local:] A top Libyan diplomat stationed in China who resigned to protest his government's violent crackdown on protesters called on President Moammar Gadhafi on Tuesday to step down and leave the country.

Hussein Sadiq al Musrati, who was the second secretary in the Libyan mission to Beijing before he stepped down four days ago, joined about 20 students and protesters in front of the Libyan Embassy in Beijing Tuesday. Demonstrators held signs that read, "The game is over. Get out ... you're finished."

[11:45 p.m. ET, 6:45 a.m. local:] U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Libya to immediately stop the "unacceptable" attacks on anti-government demonstrators.

"Like you and many others around the world, I have seen very disturbing and shocking scenes, where Libyan authorities have been firing at demonstrators from warplanes and helicopters," Ban said from Los Angeles. "This is unacceptable. This must stop immediately. This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law."

[BAHRAIN, 12:52 a.m. ET, 8:52 a.m. local:] Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of Bahrain's largest opposition party the Haq Movement planned to arrive home, cleared by an announcement that the country is closing cases against several Shia leaders.

[BAHRAIN, 10:36 p.m. ET, 6:36 a.m. local:]
Bahrain's king orders the release of a number of prisoners and closed cases against several Shia leaders accused of plotting against the kingdom, the country's state news agency said.

The announcement clears the way for the return of Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of Bahrain's largest opposition party, the Haq Movement.

Post by: , ,
Filed under: Africa • Algeria • Bahrain • Egypt • Libya
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Ariel......

    get a handful of Israelis to demolish Gadhafi – we -the west have no one to even speak of it let alone do it. I thot obama was the voice of US – what a gutless lot we of the west are

    February 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arlon

      President Obama is not issuing statements himself so that way Gadhafi cannot use Obama's words of support to attempt to pin the revolution on "the West". In this case, the best action is inaction. As long as President Obama does not make any statements about the situation, any blame that Gadhafi tries to pin on us is just him blowing hot air, and no one will believe it.

      February 22, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Louise

    Wow, I am 57 and all these despots being deposed were taking power when I was a little girl. Feels good to know that I can finally watch them get theirs. I may be projecting my own views, but is it possible that the Middle East will now be friendly territory. Now that would be something to witness before I die. May freedom ring.

    February 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cesar

      Let's just hope that the Middle East won't be quite so subservient West as had been the case up to now. They need to rid themselves of all the West's cronies and replace them with independend minded leaders.

      February 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chasid

    middle east – cartoons

    February 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. teaPARTYdemocrat

    I guess the Middle East is starting to realize the need to do something about their futures or they'll only have hour-glasses to sell when all the oil is gone.

    February 22, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Arlon

    *refreshes other source websites, hoping to see the glorious message of freedom in Libya, nothing yet*
    *sighs, continues what was doing before*

    February 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. G.I. JOE


    February 22, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. G.I. JOE


    February 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JesusChristSuperFraud

    Anyone else think Gadhafi's face looks like that of a shrunken head? Just throwing that out there.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The Bacon Chef

    #friedthepolice 🙂
    It was very important I say that 🙂

    February 23, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. Cesar

    @Crazy Cesar, YOU are a NUT CASE. @Kim, not everything with Cesar is from me, there are trolls. By the way, Kim is a cute name, so what are you doing with it?

    February 23, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. Cesar

    GROUND CONTROL, the Taliban suspect has left the civilian population, M-Q Predator...missle 2....aim.....FIRE!....Killed another terrorist. Mission accomplished.

    February 23, 2011 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. John Zudic

    They enjoy killing each other as they love to create dissension and chaos as what goes on in every Islamic country.
    CNN: must focus on Christians that are being killed every day in these Islamic countries as they are not allowed to live freely or express their faith in Islamic countries but have all the benefits of practicing their Islamic life and build Mosques with oil money in the west. Christians must have the same rights as they have in the west or do not allow them to build or practice here anymore.
    They enjoy chaos, dissension and unrest since their beginning so all you are doing is adding more fuel to their fire as they love to kill each other is what they are taught.

    March 13, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. John Zudic

    I hope that our politicians do not get involved in any of the middle-east conflicts no matter what happens. They will hate the west if they do get involved and even if they don’t because it is a Christian society. The best thing to do is let them do what they do best and that is killing each other so stop playing the good guys trying to be humane to them. They love violence and conflicts or they can’t survive. I said it before that there will be no democracy in the Muslim world in these uprising middle-east countries. It is just beginning in Egypt when a pro democracy group was attacked with stone throwing with injuries. They also violently attacked Christians for voicing their disagreement when Muslims burnt down their Church and where Christians were killed and where they have no rights. Yet the politicians welcomed them here, immigrating them to the west and are permitted to build Mosques with oil money in Christian countries and worshipping freely without being attacked by mobs of Christians.

    March 13, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. John Zudic

    It is time that the news media starts reporting the truth in the news and demand that Christians must be free to build their Churches and practice their Faith freely, like the rights Muslims have in the Christian countries around the world without being persecuted or attacked by hordes of Muslims.

    March 13, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John Zudic

    If you do nothing to stop these persecutions of Christians in these Muslim countries now, don’t be shocked when these violent acts start in your Christian Country because that is their goal. The news must start reporting these things that are happening daily in Muslim countries.

    March 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
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