Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Middle East unrest as it happened

BBC's Caroline Hawley: "The toppling of two of North Africa's autocratic rulers has given new determination to government opponents across the Middle East."

Libya, Bahrain and Iran are the latest countries to be hit by popular protests inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Follow our minute-by-minute coverage of all the latest events across the Middle East and North Africa, where several regimes are facing huge challenges from their people.


1920: The BBC's live coverage of the unrest in the Middle East has now ended, but you can continue to follow events on this website.

1918: Fawaz Gerges, a professor at the London School of Economics, says: "The ripple effect of the Egyptian revolution is shaking Middle Eastern dictators to their foundation."

1916: There have also been clashes in Iraq between police and protesters in the southern city of Kut. A teenage boy was killed and more than 20 people were injured when a large crowd angered by poor basic services tried to storm local government offices. Witnesses said shots and teargas were fired. About 2,000 people were involved in the protest. The Iraqi army has declared a curfew and deployed troops on the streets of Kut.

1915: Here is a summary of the events of the day: As protests spread across the Arab world, thousands of demonstrators in Bahrain have held a third day of anti-government rallies in the capital, Manama. At least two people have been killed in demonstrations calling for political reform. Anti-government rallies also continued in Yemen for the sixth day. At least one protester was shot dead by the police in the southern city of Aden. In Libya, violent demonstrations left at least 40 people injured in the eastern city of Benghazi.

1906: There has been much speculation about the whereabouts and health of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Officials initially said he had moved to Sharm al-Sheikh, but one report says he is now at a luxury hotel in the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat. Another says he has travelled to Germany for medical treatment. One Saudi official told the Reuters news agency: "He is not dead but is not doing well at all and refuses to leave. Basically, he has given up and wants to die in Sharm."

Toronto-based Anis Taghdi tweets: "#Tripoli expected to come out tomorrow. Situation is real tense in #Libya. People are about to loose their fear and snap."

1858: The turmoil in Libya's neighbours to the west and east - Tunisia and Egypt - has already prompted Col Gaddafi to lower food prices to pre-empt popular discontent. The government has also proposed the doubling of government employees' salaries and the release from prison of 110 members of the banned Libyan Islamic Fighting Group from the infamous Abu Salim prison.

1856: The BBC's Frank Gardner says: "This is not the first time that Libya has had protests. Benghazi has always had a bit of a reputation of not being as loyal to Muammar Gaddafi as Tripoli and Sirte. Opponents of the regime have called through social networking websites for bigger protests on Thursday. It will be interesting to see how the security forces react to that."

The BBC's Frank Gardner discusses protests in Libya as amateur video of demonstrations in Benghazi is released

1854: Activists using Facebook and Twitter have called for nationwide demonstrations across Libya on Thursday to demand the resignation of Muammar Gaddafi, the establishment of a constitution, and comprehensive political and economic reforms. Col Gaddafi came to power in 1969 through a military coup and has ruled the country since without an elected parliament or constitution. Violent demonstrations overnight in the eastern city of Benghazi left at least 40 people injured.

Abbas Al Haji in Bahrain, tweets: "Just got back from #pearlroundabout and there isn't anything violent about it, very peaceful and organised, amazed by the united people #Bahrain"

Sayed Mahmood Alaali in Bahrain, tweets: "My brother told me that pro-government people are in Isa town. A lot of cars there. However cannot give a number #Bahrain"

1839: In the Sunni town of Riffa - home to many members of the Bahraini ruling family - more than 1,000 government supporters have taken to the streets, waving flags and holding pictures of the king, Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, according to the Reuters news agency.

Pro-government protest in Riffa, Bahrain (16 February 2011)
Supporters of Bahrain's government staged their own protest in Riffa

1831: The Bahraini Justice Minister, Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa, has meanwhile said the government was prepared to discuss the demand of the Shia opposition group al-Wifaq for a new constitution, but only if it ends its boycott of parliament. "We support the people here. We are not the decision makers. The people are the decision makers," he said.

1825: Bahrain's foreign ministry has said the arrest of policemen suspected of blame for the deaths of the two protesters on Monday and Tuesday showed the kingdom "does not condone the use of excessive force at any time". Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa "noted that the protests could happen in any free, democratic country", a statement said.

1817: Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has said the state of emergency will be lifted "at the end of the current month", Algerian TV quotes him as saying.

1809: But analysts say the anti-government protests in Yemen are unlikely to become a mass uprising as seen in Egypt and Tunisia. Ibrahim Sharqieh, of the Brookings Centre in Doha, told the Reuters news agency: "The Yemeni model of uprising does not have the potential to topple the regime, but it has the potential to destabilise the country." However, he conceded, instability "could at one point result in the government or president resigning".

1803: The head of the student union at Sanaa University has said 10 students were hurt by supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. "The thugs and supporters of the ruling party... want a massacre" Radwan Masud told the AFP news agency. But he vowed that students would "continue their revolt and will not be hindered by the ruling party's actions".

Yemen has seen its fifth day of protests

1758: A call has spread via Facebook and Twitter urging Yemenis to join a series of "One Million People" rallies on a so-called "Friday of Rage" to demand the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, political reforms, and action to combat poverty, unemployment and corruption. "We will remain in the streets until the regime's departure," a statement posted on Facebook says.

1752: Meanwhile, Israel has said the Iranian navy is about to send two warships through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called it a provocation that could not be ignored. He said the warships were heading for Syria, and this had not happened for many years. Mr Lieberman said that to his regret, the international community was not showing readiness to deal with what he called recurring Iranian provocations.

1749: Iran's chief prosecutor, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, has said that those behind Monday's anti-government protests should be punished. On Tuesday, Iranian politicians called for two leading opposition politicians, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, to be tried and executed for calling the protests. Two people were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces.

Amira Al Hussaini , from Global Voices Online in Bahrain, tweets: "Was watching Bahrain TV as I can't load any pages or do any work online: The mood is pro-protests like with Gaddafi #Feb14 "

Ian Pannell
1743: The BBC's Ian Pannell in Manama says: "Bahrain is small, but strategically important - particularly to the US and UK. There are real fears that instability here could spill over into neighbouring countries, including Saudi Arabia. There are a lot of vested interests in seeing that these protests go smoothly and the situation does not descend into chaos. However, this is still the very early stages. Tonight, there are thousands of people gathered in the centre, but the demonstration has been peaceful and they say they do not want violent change. The Bahraini government is stressing that it is serious about making the changes that the protesters are calling for, but is also asking for time to see them through."

Jon Leyne
1734: The BBC's Jon Leyne considers the strength of the Libyan government's position after the protests in Benghazi: "We should be careful not to overstate what has happened so far. The turnout at Thursday's planned anti-government protests will be much more of an indicator of how strong the opposition is. And the government certainly managed to get a lot of people out to attend pro-government demonstrations screened on state TV today. But when we say supporters of the government, that's usually a euphemism for hired thugs."

1729: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells a meeting of international human rights activists, teachers and students: "If we are going to take advantage of this historic moment, we have to tap the expertise, experience and energy of civil society. Across the Middle East today we see people calling on governments to be more open, more accountable, more responsive. People want a stronger voice in their own affairs. It is in the interests of governments to answer these demands, to reflect the will of their own people."

1723: Sayed Mahmood Alaali in Bahrain tweets: "Traffic police blocking the way from Hamad town to pearl roundabout. Maybe to free the way for pro government cars. #Bahrain "

1722: The UK's Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, has said he is "concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by police during demonstrations in Bahrain that led to the death of two protesters". "I call on all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence," he added. The Bahrain-based Gulf Daily News has said several police officers were arrested in connection with the killings on Tuesday night.

Ali Al Saeed , in Bahrain, tweets: "I had hoped that this would bring Bahrainis closer. Now I fear it will do the exact opposite and tear us apart. #Bahrain #Feb14"

1711: Mehdi Karroubi's wife has also complained in a letter to the speaker of Iran's parliament about the abuse of her family's rights by "thugs" affiliated to the government. She said there was no legal justification for "this useless, inhumane and infantile conduct". She later added that it would not lessen the resolve of her husband to continue the path he has selected. "He has time and again stated that he is ready to stand trial in whichever open court that is to try him and pay any price in order to reform of the problems of the system."

1707: Hossein Karroubi, the son of Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, says his house has been broken into and occupied by the security forces. It comes a day after Iranian MPs called for the deaths of his father and fellow opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1705: President Saleh earlier told the state news agency, Saba, that the anti-government protesters should change tactics. "Anybody wants to reach the power, he should pass through the ballot boxes, which are the only way, but not chaos, wrong mobilisation and irresponsible utterance via media," he said.

1657 Egypt's health ministry announces on state TV that the death toll from recent unrest stands at 365, higher than the UN's previous estimate of 300, according to the Reuters news agency.

1654: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is facing calls to step down after three decades in power, has told the king of Bahrain that people with "foreign agendas" are trying to spread chaos in Middle East. "There are plans to try and sink the region into a fervour of chaos and violence, and they have targeted the security of the region and stability of our countries," he was quoted as saying by state media. "The people creating these works of chaos and sabotage are only implementing suspicious foreign agendas."

New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof tweets: "Amazing that a banking ctr like #Bahrain blocks Internet to suppress protests. Never thought I'd use a sat phone here."

1640 A Bahraini central bank official has said the protests will not affect the country's economy or financial sector. "It's a democratic way of doing things. It has nothing to do with the financial sector," Abdul Rahman Mohammed al-Bakir told the Reuters news agency. "Investors are not worried."

1632 The demonstrators in Pearl Square are chanting: "The people demand the fall of the regime!" Many of them are from Bahrain's Shia Muslim majority, who have been ruled by a Sunni Muslim royal family since the 18th Century.

Ian Pannell
1624 The BBC's Ian Pannell in Bahrain reports: "Tens of thousands are gathered in Pearl Square, Manama. Perhaps the biggest crowd yet in this three-day-old protest. The mood is good, but determined. As night falls many are bedding down, refusing to leave until their demands are met."

Protesters in Bahrain take a brake inside a tent (16 February 2011)

Libya17Feb tweets: "Arrests in the city of Benghazi, affecting a group of writers and siblings of victims of the massacre of Abu Salim."

1618: A second person has died after being shot by police during an anti-government demonstration in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, security officials tell the AFP news agency.

Protesters in Aden, Yemen (16 February 2011)
The protesters in Aden complained that southerners were marginalised

1614: The European Union has called for "calm and for all violence to be avoided" in Libya. "We call on the authorities to listen to all people who take part in protests as well as what civil society has to say, and to allow free expression," a spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs chief Baroness Ashton said.

1611: The demonstrators in Manama say they want all political prisoners to be released, more jobs and housing, the creation of a more representative and empowered parliament, a new constitution written by the people, and a new and more representative cabinet that does not include Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who has been in office for 40 years.

maryamalkhawaja from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights tweets: "Groups of young men have taken it upon themselves to paint over any graffiti made around #martyssquare #bahrain."

1606 Mohammed Noor tweets: "Love seeing excitement & flags, but wish there were more statements coming from the stadium. Any1 tweeting banners? #bahrain"

1604: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has expressed alarm at the killings of protesters in Bahrain. "I have been urging the authorities to curb the excesses of the security apparatus and to undertake serious investigations into allegations of torture and abuse of detention rights of hundreds of political and human rights activists. These activists, including numerous children as young as 10, were reportedly arrested and detained without meaningful access to lawyers and their families, and subjected to ill-treatment in detention," she said. "I urge the authorities to immediately cease the use of disproportionate force against peaceful protesters and to release all peaceful demonstrators who have been arrested."

1601: Reports from Libya say it is once again possible there to access the websites of al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, as well as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

1557: Another Libyan says: "Libyans are sick and tired of a life of misery. For 42 years, the Libyan people have not had any happiness. We suffer from the corruption of the regime. There is no infrastructure, law is set aside, education and health are nil. The money of the people has been squandered on nonsensical projects."

1553: Omar in Libya tells the BBC: "The demonstrations erupted because people are fed up with Gaddafi's nonsensical theories, the massacre committed in Abu Salim prison, in which more that 1200 political prisoners were killed, and Libya's money that Gaddafi is giving away everywhere except in Libya."

1548: Mr Burt adds: "I also welcome recent Libyan government efforts to promote reconciliation, including the announcement today to release a further 110 former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group."

1544: The UK's Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, says he is watching events in Libya closely: "We are concerned by reports of the arrest of Libyans who have called for demonstrations or spoken to the media and of violent incidents during demonstrations in Benghazi on 16 February. I call on the Libyan government to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and on all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence."

1537: Strong words from Israeli President Shimon Peres: "Iran will be stopped by their own people. What the present Iranian leadership does is a shame on Iranian history, the Iranian culture, and the pain for their own people. The greatest political and moral corruption in the world is in Iran."

Baki 7our tweets: "Many protests in Algeria have only specific demands (flats, jobs, cancellation of Min decision...) not political ones."

New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof tweets: "Just interviewed the foreign minister here in #Bahrain. He acknowledges that killing protesters was catastrophic."

1527 Egyptian women's groups and other rights organisations have issued a statement condemning the the choice of an all-male panel to redraw the constitution. "As Egyptian women largely and equally participated in the revolution with Egyptian men - some of them have been jailed [or] even martyred - they have the right to participate in building the new Egyptian state," the statement says.

1525: Meanwhile, Egyptians are not giving their ruling higher military council an easy ride: airport employees are striking for better pay, textile workers are walking out over corruption, and residents of a Suez Canal city are pressing for the closure of a chemical factory they say is dumping toxic waste into a lake.

1524: In a possible concession to the protesters in Benghazi, the Libyan authorities will free 110 members of the banned Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) from the Abu Salim prison on Wednesday, human rights activists say.

1521: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says Arab nations have for too long based their societies on a false choice between authoritarianism and fundamentalism. He writes in the International Herald Tribune: "The people have spoken and made clear that they do not want to live under authoritarian rule and are fed up with regimes that hold power for decades."

1518 Yonis Attiya tweets: "What I loved most when I was in #lulu is how people are expressing them selves freely, no boundaries, no police #Bahrain #14feb"

1517: Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East defence specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, believes Bahrain has security services capable of handling the protests in Manama. "It is a serious problem, but whether it's going to flare up any more seriously this time than all the other times is hard to say," he tells the Associated Press. "The question is whether they can shake the security structure of the state."

1513: Tariq Al-Olaimy, Bahrain , tweets: "Women & children making up much of the demonstrators #nationalstadium #Bahrain #Feb14"

1511: Libya's state media outlets have largely focused on pro-Gaddafi protests, which they say took place across the country on Tuesday. However, the independent Qurayna website did publish a report briefly mentioning the anti-government protests in the country's second city, saying: "Young activists last night in Benghazi ended short confrontations with a group attempting to disturb stability while demonstrating in al-Shajarah Square in central Benghazi."

1510: Freedom Messenger, Iran, tweets: "One university professor and at least 10 students has been arrested today at Art uni of #tehran #iranelection #Iran"

1508: The Yemeni authorities have also deployed about 2,000 police in the capital, Sanaa, to limit the anti-government demonstrations. They fired into the air and blocked thousands of students at Sanaa University from joining opposition supporters holding a sixth consecutive day of protests in the city, according to the Associated Press.

Anti-government demonstrators in Sanaa (16 February 2011)

1502: The protester shot dead in clashes with police in Yemen was Mohammed Ali Alwani, his father has told the Reuters news agency. The 21 year old was one of two people shot when police fired into the air to try to break up around 500 protesters gathered in the southern port of Aden. A medical official said five others were wounded, at least one seriously.

1457: BBC Arabic has been told by Libyan opposition sources that the video that appeared to show gunfire in Benghazi and was published by the BBC News website was uploaded to YouTube more than a year ago. The BBC had been told earlier by the Libyan opposition that the video showed clashes on Tuesday.

1453: In Yemen, police have shot dead a protester while trying to break up protests in the southern port of Aden, medical workers and relatives of the dead man say.

1450: The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones in Beirut says: "A Hezbollah fighter who escaped from a prison in Egypt during the recent unrest there, has made an appearance at a rally in Beirut. Sami Chehab waved and held up a Hezbollah flag as the audience cheered and clapped. After his appearance, the leader of the Shia Islamist group, Hassan Nasrallah, said he was grateful to the Egyptian people for creating conditions which allowed Mr Chehab to escape. He spoke of the victory of the Egyptian people, which he said was an historic event and marked the defeat of an American-backed regime."

1447: The BBC's Jonathan Head reports from Iraq, where a teenage boy has been killed in protests: "Frustration over poor provision of basic services like electricity has triggered numerous protests in Iraq, but the events in Egypt have certainly given them renewed vigour. Now, one in the city of Kut has turned violent after police tried to stop a large crowd from storming local government offices and forcing the provincial governor to resign. Eyewitnesses told the BBC that tear gas and live ammunition were fired, causing many injuries, some of them serious. The army has now declared a curfew and deployed troops onto the city's streets."

1435: Earlier, Iranian state TV said there had been renewed clashes in Tehran between supporters and opponents of the government. The trouble broke out during the funeral of a student killed in anti-government protests in the capital on Monday. Both sides claimed the dead man as one of their own. State media said the pro-government demonstrators included revolutionary guards and MPs.

A coffin holding the body of the student Sane Jaleh, killed in Monday's protests in Tehran, is carried by government supporters (16 February 2011)
It is not clear if the dead Iranian was a supporter or opponent of the government

1432: More on the rally called by the Iranian authorities in Tehran on Friday to show the people's "hatred" of the opposition: "The noble people of Tehran will take to Enqelab Square after Friday prayers with their solid and informed presence," the Islamic Propagation Co-ordination Council, which organises government-backed programmes, said in a statement, according to the AFP news agency. Those attending the rally will "scream out their hatred, wrath and disgust against the savage crimes and evil movements of sedition leaders, their monafeqin (hypocrites) and their monarchist allies."

Toronto-based Anis Taghdi tweets: "The green area in Tripoli is crowded with pro-Gaddafi supporters. Armed security in civilian clothes also seen. #Libya #Tripoli"

1423: A senior member of Libya's Revolutionary Committee Movement has told the AFP news agency that "no more than 150 people" took part in the initial protest in Benghazi, and that it was by relatives of late Abu Salim prisoners. "Some outsiders infiltrated this gathering," he said. "We will not permit this at all and we call on Libyans to voice freely their issues through the people's committees, even if it is to call for the downfall of the government or to reveal corruption within it".

1414: The BBC's correspondent in Tripoli says: "From the videos published on YouTube, there were several protests during the day and night in Benghazi. Comments posted below the videos identified the protesters at the initial march as relatives of the hundreds of people who are said to have been killed in a massacre at the nearby Abu Salim prison in 1996. Later, other people joined the protests and they became more widespread."

1407: The director of the Jalaa Hospital in Benghazi has been quoted as saying that 38 people were injured in the clashes, most of them members of the security forces. He said the injuries were "minor" and that everyone had been discharged.

1403: More information is emerging of the unrest overnight and early today in Benghazi, Libya's second city. Protesters clashed with police and government supporters, throwing stones and petrol bombs and setting fire to vehicles; the police responded with rubber bullets and water cannon. Internet footage appeared to show protesters fleeing the sound of gunfire. The unrest was said to have been triggered by the arrest of a human rights campaigner.

1402 Shouq tweets: "One of the participants gave a heartfelt speech at the national stadium #Bahrain"

Ian Pannell
1401: The BBC's Ian Pannell in Bahrain says: "A few thousand protestors have gathered for a second day in Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital. They are calling for constitutional reform, the release of political prisoners and in their words, an end to civil rights abuses. Last night, in a rare televised address, the king announced that an investigation has begun into the death of two protestors in as many days. The funeral was held for one of those killed by police gunfire today. A highly emotional and angry crowd demanded immediate changes to the way Bahrain is governed with some going as far as to call for the overthrow of the ruling family. For now, though, their numbers are relatively few and it remains to be seen whether this small Gulf kingdom is destined to follow the path taken by Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks."

Protesters in Pearl Square, Bahrain (16 February 2011)
Protesters at the main square in Bahrain's capital want a change of government

Anis Taghdi tweets: "Libyan from Tripoli: 'It is really dangerous. Very ugly faces tense angry and blood thirsty' #Libya #Feb17"

The Libyan Youth Movement tweets: "rumor on the street in Benghazi - Protests to start again in greater numbers this evening #Libya #Feb17"

1344: Libyan state TV is saying rallies were held on Wednesday morning across the country in support of Col Gaddafi, Africa's longest serving leader. It also showed pictures of one in Benghazi.

Pro-government protest in Benghazi (16 February 2011)

1340: Mohammed Tarnish, the head of the Libyan Organisation for Human Rights - which interestingly used to be associated with Col Gaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam - tells the BBC that it was "unfortunate to see that the protest [in Benghazi] took a violent turn and to hear of arrests". "However, I have heard that some of those arrested have been released already," he adds.

1336: Residents of Benghazi, who did not witness last night's unrest, have told the BBC that the Libyan city has been very quiet since the morning. One said it resembled a ghost town, adding: "Most people seem to be at home".

LibyaDemocracy tweets: "Libya is a major oil exporter. West will NOT support #Feb17 because it will drive up oil prices. Unite and force them to acknowledge Feb17!"

1320: Another indirect consequence of the unrest in Arab countries has been an influx of migrants into Europe, particularly from Tunisia. The BBC's Europe editor Gavin Hewitt has sent a report from the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he describes huddled masses of Tunisians waiting to get further into Europe.

Yemen4change tweets: "Not every change is a good change! Our ultimate goal is positive change & will eventually happen if we plan it right."

1310: For those of you wanting a deeper appreciation of the situation in the region, the BBC website has collated all the most compelling material on one page.

Youth United tweets: "#Libya #Benghazi #Tripoli :If Gaddafi wants to make it a battlefield, then make it a battlefield of your choice.Block streets, Paralyze city.."

RedhaHaji in Bahrain tweets: "More tents r being erected. Over a thousand demonstrators here but more r flowing in gradually. Flyover also occupied."

1302: The BBC website now has a gallery of the most dramatic images from around the region on another day of protests.

1258: First statement on protests from Libyan government, a senior official says: "We will not allow a group of people to move around at night and play with the security of Libya. The clashes last night were between small groups of people - up to 150. Some outsiders infiltrated that group. They were trying to corrupt the local legal process which has long been in place. We will not permit that at all, and we call on Libyans to voice their issues through existing channels, even if it is to call for the downfall of the government."

Frank Gardner
The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner says: "Whatever happens in the coming protests it will be increasingly difficult for the ageing and erratic Col Gaddafi to resist the calls for political freedom, civil rights, a more equitable sharing of the nation's wealth and a move towards a genuine democracy."

ShababLibya tweets: "Right now in Benghazi, tear gas being thrown in the city center and have blockaded the city center."

1246: Sources in London and Tripoli tell BBC Arabic that prominent writer Idris al-Mesmari has been arrested after given interviews to the channel and to al-Jazeera.

1242: More from Oliver Miles, who say the Libyan authorities are ready for Thursday's planned protests: "I believe they just declared a public holiday tomorrow, so universities and schools will be closed. They've also, although I can't absolutely confirm this, cancelled some football matches which were due to take place tomorrow and could have formed the centre-piece of some dissent. Gaddafi himself has held a number of meetings with local leaders to rally opposition to any kind of protest meeting, and there have been unconfirmed stories that they've been hiring thugs - people who would use violence to break up protests and so on."

1240: Oliver Miles, the British ambassador in Tripoli in 1984 when Britain cut diplomatic ties with Libya, tells the BBC World Service: "I think at the moment the protesters have been very careful not to attack Col Gaddafi. If they cross that line then we'll be in new territory."

Mohammed AlMaskati in Manama, Bahrain tweets: "Tweeps reporting that Egyptians will protest in front of the Bahraini embassy in Cairo in solidarity."

RedhaHaji in Bahrain tweets: "Walking towards lulu u can hear the bellowing loud speakers. Talking to crowds present. Its windy but sun is warm. Pleasant."

1224: Reuters reports hundreds of Yemenis taking to the streets of Sanaa, Aden and Taiz in widening anti-government unrest. "We're no weaker than Tunisians and Egyptians, and our situation is worse than theirs," student Rafea Abdullah tells the news agency.

1213: More from Bahrain's Shia opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman: "The government should be elected by the people who would have the right to hold it accountable. People do not demand a religious state. They demand a civic and democratic state like in other places of the world."

1210: Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to both Iran and Libya, tells the BBC World Service that it's early days to forecast what might happen in Libya: "The fact is that in recent years many Libyans have been pretty apathetic about the politics of their country, at least in public, and there has been much less opportunity than in Egypt or Tunisia for opposition groups to gather and meet and organise. There is a core of opposition to the leader, most of it resident abroad, but there's also an Islamist element, particularly in the east of the country."

1202: More anti-American polemic from Iran (see entry at 1114), this time from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying: "Of course, today the Americans are intent on deceiving the people in Egypt. This is so that they can dissuade the people [from continuing protests] through granting some insignificant and trivial gains and persuade them to return to their houses and to no longer be on the scene."

1156: It's interesting to see how European countries have been affected by the Middle East unrest. Certain French politicians have suffered some embarrassing moments - the latest being Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, whose parents made a property deal with an associate of the ousted Tunisian president, according to the BBC website's latest story.

1148: UK-based Libyan dissident Guma El-Gamaty tells the BBC World Service: "Gaddafi has achieved some sort of rapprochement with the outside world, however he has not given his disenfranchised population any real concessions. There has been talks of some reform for the last 10 years, but nothing has happened on the human rights front or on the economic or political front."

1133: More from the EU, this time on Libya. European leaders call on Tripoli to allow "free expression", according to AFP.

1128: Bahrain's Shia opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman calls for a real constitutional monarchy in Bahrain, with the prime minister elected rather than appointed by the king, according to AFP.

1127: Another high-level delegation is heading to Egypt: Reuters reports EU foreign affairs chief Baroness Ashton will visit the country on 22 February.

1121: For those just joining the live coverage, a brief recap: anti-government protests are continuing in Bahrain and Yemen on Wednesday, with violent clashes reported. Funerals of protesters killed in earlier demonstrations have fuelled anger in Bahrain and Iran, where mourners fought with security forces. Overnight, unrest reportedly erupted in the Libyan city of Benghazi, although reports say the situation there is now calm.

1114: The prosecutor-general blamed the US, Israel and anti-revolutionary elements for the unrest, saying: "Those who accompanied the US, the Zionist regime and enemies of the revolution during the last year and this year's sedition have done a great oppression and committed a big crime."

1111:According to the Fars news agency, Iran's prosecutor-general Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi says Tehran will punish those who masterminded Monday's protests, saying: "Elements behind this incident should be punished since riot, insecurity, damage to public properties and invitation to chaos cannot be ignored."

Freetelw tweets: "Tripoli just got back from Green Sq (12.30 pm)..bunch of 'pro-Gaddafi protesters' are chanting..they brought high school students in groups."

New York Times columnist Nick Kristof in Bahrain tweets: "Amazing that a banking ctr like Bahrain blocks Internet to suppress protests. Never thought I'd use a sat phone here."

1051: Iran's regime calls for a demonstration on Friday to denounce the "evil" opposition movement, AFP reports quoting state TV.

James Reynolds
The BBC's James Reynolds reports on the controversy surrounding the funeral of Saneh Jaleh, who was killed during protests on Monday: "Exactly what Saneh Jaleh was doing during Monday's protests - and how he was killed - has now become the subject of great argument in Iran between the establishment and the opposition. State TV has called Mr Jaleh a government supporter and a member of the Basij - a voluntary paramilitary force associated with the establishment. The government says that he was shot dead during Monday's protests by opposition demonstrators. But opposition supporters say that he was actually a protestor and was killed by the authorities."

1039: The UN says its human rights chief will ask Egypt to accept a UN rights mission to "assess the situation and to find ways of helping this transition to democracy from the human rights point of view".

Film Director Saleh Nass in Bahrain tweets: "There are festering issues that need 2 be addressed by the folk at Lulu & the Gvt. but for some issues we are already on the way."

1031: Iranians have been posting videos of the unrest in their country - the BBC website has pulled together some of the most compelling footage available so far.

Libyan in the UK, A Madani, tweets: "Libya: just heard Tripoli youths are moving towards city centre .. We have to wait & see."

Ian Pannell
The BBC's Ian Pannell in Bahrain: "We are at a mosque on outskirts of Manama, where mourners are dressing the body of a dead protester. There are emotional scenes here. They are very keen to show the gunshot wound, making the point that he was shot in the back by police."

1020: More on those clashes in Yemen (see entry at 0947): AFP reports at least four people wounded and three journalists beaten up by supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

1009: Thousands of anti-government protestors are continuing to occupy the centre of Bahrain's capital, Manama. They're calling for political reforms and the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who has governed the Gulf state since its independence in 1971.

Jon Leyne
The BBC's Jon Leyne sums up the situation across the region: "There are a lot of disputes in a lot of different countries with different causes. In Bahrain, it's about a dispossessed majority. In Egypt, it was not about economics, it was about being treated with dignity. A lot of people in the region say they have been treated like children by their dictatorial rulers for years. And that is a theme that runs throughout the region."

Shabab Libya tweets: "Reports coming in from Benghazi, the security seem to be unorganized taken by suprise."

1000: Libyan opposition figure Mohammed Ali Abdullah tells the BBC: "People have now been empowered to make a statement. Enough. Forty-two years of oppression. Forty-two years of a dictatorial totalitarian rule is enough. The source of the problem is the same person and it starts with getting rid of him, and that's the common denominator that gets all the people to come out for these demonstrations."

0956: An eyewitnesses in the Libyan city of Benghazi tells the BBC World Service how protests erupted: "A couple of people in the crowd started chanting anti-government slogans, and the crowd took that on. But then there were clashes with pro-government supporters and then after a bit the pro-government supporters were dispersed and then the security services arrived and they dispersed the crowds with water cannon."

0947: Government loyalists wielding batons and daggers clash with anti-government protesters in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, Reuters reports

0945: To recap events from Libya, overnight demonstrations in the eastern city of Benghazi reportedly left 14 people injured. Witnesses said protestors marched on government offices and clashed with police in response to the arrest of a human rights campaigner. Reports say that the situation is now calm.

0935: Beginning our live coverage, Iranian state television is reporting renewed clashes in Teheran between supporters and opponents of the government. The trouble broke out between rival groups of demonstrators during the funeral of a student killed in anti-government protests on Monday.

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