Many of the uprisings in the Middle East are reaching critical junctures this morning. Here are some of the key developments:
The Gulf Cooperation Council--whose members include Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar--has sent forces into Bahrain to maintain order and secure oil, electricity, water, and financial facilities, as anti-regime protesters clash violently with government forces. (h/t to Admiral Porky who alerted us on the Open Wire.)
The demonstrators, who mainly hail from the country's Shiite majority, are demanding an end to the oppressive policies of Bahrain's Sunni monarchy. Bahrain's crown prince has offered to empower a parliament, address corruption, meet with opposition leaders, and cool sectarian tensions, Al Arabiya reports, but not at the expense of "security and stability."
Neighboring Saudi Arabia--which has experienced relatively mild Shiite-led protests in its eastern provinces--has reportedly dispatched 1,000 Saudi troops, as it seeks to keep the unrest in Bahrain from spreading to its borders. The U.S., meanwhile has condemned the violence in Bahrain but is in an awkward position, since its Fifth Fleet is based in the country.
The Libyan government is offering amnesty to soldiers who've defected if they lay down their arms and show "regret" while continuing its aerial assaults on rebel-held towns in the west and, perhaps most critically, the eastern town of Ajdabiya, which is close to the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.
Foreign ministers of The Group of Eight--which includes the U.S.--will discuss imposing a no-fly zone over Libya to deter the Libyan Air Force from attacking rebels during a meeting in Paris on Monday, but the military action faces opposition from Turkey in NATO and from Russia and China in the United Nations Security Council--the two bodies that the U.S. has said would need to coordinate such a measure.
The New York Times' Anthony Shadid suggests that the fight in Ajdabiya could represent a "last stand" for the rebels. The town, Shadid explains, is "within grasp of a highway crucial to recapturing the eastern border and encircling the rebellion with heavy armor and artillery." The rebels "valiantly vowed victory," he adds, "but acknowledged the deficit posed by their weapons and pleaded for a no-flight zone that seemed a metaphor for any kind of international help."
The governor of Yemen's Marib province has been stabbed in the neck by armed men outside the local government's headquarters during an anti-government protest, the BBC reports. The protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's three-decade rule are growing increasingly violent. Over the weekend, police used tear gas, water cannons, and live bullets on protesters in Sanaa, while protesters set a police station ablaze in the port city of Aden.