Protest and revolt in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen continue to develop. Things took a hopeful turn in Bahrain as troops were withdrawn from the capital, and protesters re-occupied the Pearl roundabout. Crowds of protesters in Yemen grew far larger than they had been over the first few days of action, and there were reports of a lack of police presence in Aden, leading to the burning of government buildings.
But the most explosive stories came out of Libya, where the northeastern part of the country was reported to be controlled by protesters. Police were pulled out of eastern cities like Benghazi, but other forces, including (apparently) African mercenaries were sent back in by the government to re-enter or retake protester-controlled areas. Former British diplomats and other commenters on AJE suggested that the protests in Libya were reaching a critical point, and that Gaddafi might actually be removed from power.
This is a liveblog this afternoon, your help with updating and interpreting the events of today is requested. Thank you! I'm sure if developments in Libya or elsewhere become more serious over the weekend, there will be a more sustained liveblog effort.
Things are moving fast on all fronts. There will be a general industrial strike in Bahrain (per sec. gen. of Gulf Air Trades Union on AJE) on Sunday which is expected to bring that country to a halt. With regard to Yemen, it was reported that negotiations between President Saleh and tribal leaders were not going well, and one of Saleh's key tribal allies has threatened to join the revolt. The disappearance of police and security forces in Aden - getting to be a characteristic occurrence in these protest movements - may have been an effort to create problems for secessionists in the southern part of the country (former South Yemen, a one-time socialist-leaning nation).
Completely lost in the shuffle is the former focus of American efforts in Yemen, involving accusations of al-Qaida activity in Yemen. French scholars have cast doubt upon the extent of that activity, and it remains to be seen if it will emerge as an issue in the Yemeni protests.
Here are some links for Libya:
http://libya2011.kaizer.se/ (video archive)
Your top Twitterers are ShababLibya, ChangeInLibya, Libyan4Life and EnoughGaddafi.
Also, everybody please stop writing "Lybia". Lydia was an ancient country in Asia Minor, if that's what you're thinking of!
The Libyan government pulled a Mubarak yesterday and shut down the Internet almost completely (though there are still a few ISPs running). That has fortunately not stopped news from getting out, although Al Jazeera is also being blocked. The protest movement may have control over the Egyptian border, and maybe this is helping. Please excuse me for not putting more into this diary, but the links above, plus AJE and YouTube (just search Libyan protests or Libyan protesters) look like providing a good stream of real time information.
Today and tomorrow might be very important in a military sense regarding the conflict between protesters and Gaddafi. Meteor Blades pointed out in a comment that it's no good thinking that protesters and Gaddafi could divide the country along east-west lines - the oil and the infrastructure is in the east.
Al Jazeera is trying to find out now what the extent of pro-democracy protests is in the capital, Tripoli. Tweets from the protesters seem to expect that protests will erupt in Tripoli.
Protests took place in Algeria as planned, and they looked much like the previous protests. The police were as numerous as the protesters. The lesson of the range of experiences, going back to Tunisia, seems to indicate that this is the only "solution" to knock down the energy of protests. Almost every country so far except Algeria has attempted, in essence, to substitute more violence or more vicious attacks for a large number of police or security forces. It appeared at first that the Gaddafi regime had the resources, in terms of numbers, to quell the revolt. But this first impression was dispelled yesterday, as police retreated from major cities (Benghazi, Al-Baeda, Tobruk, etc.) in the east. There were also cases in which police and soldiers went over to "the people". The Libyan Army is separated by tribes so it is not an independent institution as in Egypt.
Benghazi Free Radio is on the air and you can link it through LibyaFeb17
Footage showing Gaddafi at the head of a party-demonstration in Tripoli has been ridiculed by dissident Libyan commenters on AJE, who called it a "rent-a-crowd"
Government forces have used African mercenaries to try to attack cities they had lost. There is video of a dead alleged mercenary in a blue-cammy uniform. There have also been glimpses of people wearing yellow construction hats (hard hats) attacking protesters.
Updated by frenchman at Sat Feb 19, 2011, 02:53:48 PM
Thank you to the Eyes on Egypt crew who adopted this diary and put it on "Community Spotlight"
Updated by frenchman at Sat Feb 19, 2011, 09:23:03 PM
Tomorrow will be an eventful day in all the hot spots.
Please comment and pass on links you may find. I'll be in and out.
The original title of this diary was "Libyan revolt, links and liveblog" It has been changed to become part of the liveblog stream going back to the Egyptian uprising.