Libya, Day 17

The Guardian posts an excellent summary of the latest developments:

• Two explosions have rocked Tripoli this morning. One appeared to be a tanker on the bridge near the Rixos hotel and the other was towards the coast. A witness suggested on Twitter that the former was the result of a traffic accident but it Tumblr_lhegmlaVUl1qc2aido1_500 will heighten nervousness in the capital, one of Muammar Gaddafi's few remaining strongholds.

• Forces loyal to Gaddafi have retaken at least two towns near the capital, according to the Associated Press. One of those apparently retaken was the strategic mountain town of Gharyan, the largest in the Nafusa Mountains.

• Two US warships are on their way to the Mediterranean but the prospect of western military action has receded after the Obama administration publicly distanced itself from David Cameron's suggestion that Nato should establish a no-fly zone over the country and that rebel forces should be armed.

• Libya has been suspended from the UN human rights council after a unanimous vote by the UN general assembly. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said the decision, along with the rights panel's decision to set up an inquiry to investigate human rights abuses in Libya and the security council's referral of Libya to the international criminal court showed "that those who commit crimes against humanity will be punished, that fundamental principles of justice and accountability shall prevail".

• Fears are mounting of a humanitarian crisis at Libya's border with Tunisia after a stark warning from the UN high commissioner for refugees. The UNHCR said 140,000 people have fled Libya – half crossing into Egypt, and half into Tunisia. There is a backlog of 20,000 people on the Libya side of the border with Tunisia, according to the UNHCR

Follow their live-blog here for the latest. Scott Lucas looks elsewhere in the region this morning:

Pressure continued on the regimes in Yemen and Bahrain through further marches and demands --- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is looking increasingly vulnerable, as he lashed out at supposed US and Israeli backing of protests. There were also marches by "hundreds" in Oman, but the situation appeared more settled than the previous three days in which at least six people were killed in clashes.

Protest also continues in Egypt, but the main news appeared to be the move of the Supreme Military Council towards negotiations with political groups on the transition to elections. Following Monday's five-hour discussion with youth organisations, the Council met political figures, including Mohamed ElBaradei and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, as well as lawyers, journalists, and businessmen on Tuesday.

A quieter day on the streets in Tunisia, but a tumultuous one inside the Government. Three Ministers left, including two former opposition leaders whose participation was considered a vital sign of consensus over the transition to elections and a new system.

Follow EA's live-blogging of Libya here and Iran here.

(Image by drawjosh)