IVORY COAST: UN takes on Gbagbo
The UN Security Council demanded an immediate end to the escalating violence in Ivory Coast and imposed sanctions on Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to relinquish the presidency. Wednesday's unanimous council came five days after France and Nigeria introduced a draft resolution expressing "grave concern" that the west African nation could relapse into civil war. The voted came on the day fighters supporting internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara seized control of the country's administrative capital, Yamoussoukro.
SYRIA: Tough talk angers crowds
President Bashar Assad dashed expectations that he would announce sweeping reforms Wednesday, instead taking a tough line, blaming two weeks of popular fury on a foreign conspiracy. Assad's own officials had billed his speech as an introduction of major change and the turnaround infuriated protesters. "Syria is being subjected to a major conspiracy," Assad said in his first public comments since the turmoil began, touched off by the arrest of teenagers who scrawled anti-government graffiti on a wall. More than 60 people have been killed since March 18 as security forces cracked down, human rights groups say.
YEMEN: Protesters jam cities
Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters packed the streets throughout Yemen on Wednesday, demanding the president's ouster and blaming him for a munitions factory blast that left 100 people dead. Mass protests have for weeks sought the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power for 32 years.
BAHRAIN: Shia demand Saudis leave
Bahrain's Shia Muslim opposition demanded Wednesday that the Saudi-led military force helping to put down protests leave the country immediately. The majority Shia are demonstrating for more rights and freedom against a Sunni dynasty that has ruled Bahrain for two centuries.