Tanks and infantry units sweep into Deraa to crush an anti-government uprising
On 25 April, the Libyan government accused Nato of trying to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi after two air strikes hit sites near the compound from where he is directing military operations.
Nato says it targeted communications headquarters used to coordinate attacks against civilians. On 26 April, troops loyal to Qaddafi extended their campaign to Berber towns in the western mountains and continued to battle rebels in the besieged rebel-held city of Misrata.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is due to hold talks in Washington on 3 May with his British counterpart Liam Fox. One item on their agenda is the possibility of cutting fuel supplies to Qaddafi’s armed forces on the ground.
On 22 April, at least 82 protesters were killed in the most violent weekend since protests began on 15 March. The following day on 23 April, at least 12 people were killed as security forces opened fire on mourners at funerals of dead protesters in Damascus and the southern town of Deraa.
On 25 April, the Syrian government escalated its response to the protests by unleashing tanks on to the streets for the first time and troops opening fire in towns and villages.
On the same day, the White House said it was preparing to introduce new sanctions against the Syrian regime in response to its military crackdown. On 26 April, the United Nations Security Council said it is also considering a draft statement over the issue of human rights abuses in the country.
On 24 April, about 20,000 Moroccans took to the streets in the country’s major cities to call for a constitutional monarchy and protest against the slow speed of change.
The peaceful demonstrations were organised by the February 20 movement, named after the date of Morocco’s first countrywide protests this year. Demonstrators called for political, social and economic reforms, and an end to corruption, which is estimated to account for a loss of about 2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
On 24 April, the UAE government issued a decree dissolving the board of the Jurist Association, as the backlash against a petition calling for political reform continues. According to the decree, the Jurist Association violated section 16 of the UAE’s 2008 Law on Associations, which prohibits non-governmental organisations and its members from interfering in politics or in matters that impair state security and its ruling regime.
On 26 April, UAE authorities arrested five political activists in the wake of a petition calling for a more representative government. The activists were detained for “opposing the government” and were being questioned over “perpetrating acts that pose a threat to state security”. They were also accused of insulting Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
On 24 April, President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down from his position within 30 days in return for immunity from prosecution. Following talks with GCC mediators, Saleh agreed to hand over power to vice-president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who will then call for new presidential elections. Opposition parties say they accept the deal, although they reject proposals for the formation of a national unity government within seven days of the signing, demanding that Saleh step down first.
The opposition is against giving Yemen’s parliament, which is dominated by Saleh’s party, the power to approve or reject his resignation.