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Qaddafi and rebels look for friends: April 4 Mideast update

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Ben Curtis/AP

(Read caption) Rebel fighters use binoculars to spot targets, on the top of sand dunes near the front line in Brega, Libya Monday, April 4. Libyan rebels pushed into the strategic oil town of Brega on Monday but came under fire from Muammar Qaddafi's forces, as a government envoy began a diplomatic push in Europe to discuss an end to the fighting.

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Check back weekday mornings for a quick tally of the latest developments in the Middle East and North Africa.


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The weekend was a busy one on the diplomatic front for both sides in the Libyan conflict. The government's Deputy Foreign Minister Abdelati Laabidi (the elected foreign minister Moussa Koussa defected last week) traveled to Greece this weekend to meet with the Greek prime minister as an envoy for Qaddafi's government. His trip sparked speculation that he too was defecting, but representatives insist he is not.

Mr. Obeidi (whose name is also spelled Abdel Ati al Obeidi) is today headed to Turkey, which aims to lead efforts to broker a cease-fire.

Meanwhile, Italy became the third country (after France and Qatar) to recognize the opposition's interim government as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. The Italian foreign minister said the only acceptable result of the conflict is Muammar Qaddafi's departure.

Qaddafi and rebel forces appear locked in a stalemate east of Brega, where forces have been gathered since March 31. Brega is the last town to the west of Ajdabiya, which itself is the last city before the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.


The death toll in Yemen's unrest rolled over 100 this weekend, and today's protests also turned violent. Agence France-Press reports that 17 people have so far been killed Monday alone in Taez, about 125 miles from the capital of Sanaa, which was also the site of protests Monday.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that the US is backing away from its staunch support of Saleh, no longer convinced that he has a "tenable" hold on power.

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The Bahrain News Agency reported that the Gulf's regional and economic bloc, the Gulf Cooperation Council, condemned Iran for sowing instability in region, particularly Bahrain. The Bahraini government believes that the country's uprising is an Iranian conspiracy meant to shake the Sunni monarchy from power.