The United Nations General Assembly convenes here in New York just as a a set of disturbing developements has emerged in the Middle East. Will these reverse some of the hopeful trends we have seen in the region over the past two years?
As Libyan rebels continue their hunt for Moammar Gadhafi, the military commander of the anti-Gaddafi forces in Tripoli says he wants and apology from the United States and the United Kingdom. The commander, Abdel Hakijm Belhaj, says he was tortured after being arrested in Bangkok in 2004 as a terrorism suspect, then transferred by the CIA and British intelligence agencies to a prison in Libya. A CIA document recently uncovered in Gadhafi's Tripoli compound shows "that the British and Libyans worked together to arrange for a terrorism suspect to be removed from Hong Kong to Tripoli – along with his wife and children – despite the risk that they would be tortured," according to The Guardian.
Six months after Tunisian protestors deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, inspired by a young fruit and vegetable seller called Mohammed Bouazzi who burnt himself to death.The BBC's Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen has been to speak to some of those enjoying the new freedom and also the inspector who's treatment of Bouazzi sparked the revolution.
This morning, the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Gadhafi's intelligence chief, for crimes against humanity. They are wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first twelve days of the uprising to topple him from power, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes. The warrants will complicate efforts to bring an end to more than four months of fighting in Libya.
It's been three months since the uprising in Egypt forced out Hosni Mubarak. Egyptians who participated in the historic protests were moved to press for social and political change, hoping for instant results. However, change is coming slowly to the country and there are still holdovers from Mubarak's regime in the government. The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen reports from Cairo.
The Libyan government has said that an American decision to deploy drone aircraft as part of the NATO operation over Libya will cause more civilian deaths. The Libyan deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaim, said more air strikes would undermine any claims by the U.S. and NATO to be supporting democracy in Libya. The decision to use U.S. drones comes as Senator John McCain visits the opposition-held city of Benghazi for talks with rebel leaders. The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen reports from Tripoli on reaction to the announcement and how this recasts America's role in the country.
Col. Moammar Gadhafi has accepted a political road map to peace proposed by the African Union. The plan calls for an immediate ceasefire, cooperation with humanitarian aids groups and a dialogue with the rebels. However, it does not require Gadhafi to step down. A rebel spokesperson said that any deal that allows Gadhafi and his sons to stay in power would not be acceptable. The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen reports from Tripoli.