Recent developments in the region until October 20

Gaddafi killed by Libyan rebels in Sirte after months of bloody showdown

Details of the last moments in the life of Africa’s King of Kings and author of the Green Book

World leaders hail demise of Gaddafi and senior aides

Clinton visits Libya amidst news Gaddafi’s son Khamis was killed

Yemen resumes offices to stop conflicts and reach settlement

Field Marshal Tantawi confirms Egypt army’s ability to protect nation

LIBYA:

Muammar Gaddafi was killed after being captured by the Libyan fighters he once scorned as "rats," cornered and shot in the head after they overrun his last bastion of resistance in his hometown of Sirte.

His body, bloodied, half naked, Gaddafi's trademark long curls hanging limp around a rarely seen bald spot, was delivered, a prize of war, to Misrata, the city west of Sirte whose siege and months of suffering at the hands of Gaddafi's artillery and sniper made it a symbol of the rebel cause.

A quick and secret burial was scheduled later on Friday.

"It's time to start a new Libya, a united Libya," Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril declared. "One people, one future." A formal announcement of Libya's liberation, which will set the clock ticking on a timeline to elections, would be made on Saturday, Libyan officials said.

Two months after Western-backed rebels ended 42 years of eccentric one-man rule by capturing the capital Tripoli, his death ended a nervous hiatus for the new interim government.

U.S. President Barack Obama, in a veiled dig at the Syrian and other leaders resisting the democrats of the Arab Spring, declared "the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end."

But Gaddafi's death is a setback to campaigners seeking the full truth about the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie in Scotland of Pan Am flight 103 which claimed 270 lives, mainly Americans, and for which one of Gaddafi's agents was convicted.

Jim Swire, the father of one of the Lockerbie victims, said: "There is much still to be resolved and we may now have lost an opportunity for getting nearer the truth."

"That's for Lockerbie," said the front-page headline in The Sun, Britain's best selling daily newspaper.

Confusion over Gaddafi's death was a reminder of the challenge for Libyans to now summon order out of the armed chaos that is the legacy of eight months of grinding conflict.

The killing or capture of senior aides, including possibly two sons, as an armored convoy braved NATO air strikes in a desperate bid to break out of Sirte, may ease fears of diehards regrouping elsewhere - though cell phone video, apparently of Gaddafi alive and being beaten, may inflame his sympathizers.

As news of Gaddafi's demise spread, people poured into the streets in jubilation. Joyous fighters fired their weapons in the air, shouting "Allahu Akbar."

Others wrote graffiti on the parapets of the highway outside Sirte. One said simply: "Gaddafi was captured here."

Jibril, reading what he said was a post-mortem report, said Gaddafi was hauled unresisting from a "sewage pipe." He was then shot in the arm and put in a truck which was "caught in crossfire" as it ferried the 69-year-old to hospital.

"He was hit by a bullet in the head," Jibril said, adding it was unclear which side had fired the fatal shot.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who spearheaded a Franco-British move in NATO to back the revolt against Gaddafi hailed a turn of events that few had expected so soon, since there had been little evidence that Gaddafi himself was in Sirte.

But he also alluded to fears that, without the glue of hatred for Gaddafi, the new Libya could descend, like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, into bloody factionalism: "The liberation of Sirte must signal ... the start of a process ... to establish a democratic system in which all groups in the country have their place and where fundamental freedoms are guaranteed," he said.

NATO, keen to portray the victory as that of the Libyans themselves, said it would wind down its military mission.

The circumstances of the death of Gaddafi, who had vowed to go down fighting, remained obscure. Jerky video showed a man with Gaddafi's distinctive long, curly hair, bloodied and staggering under blows from armed men, apparently NTC fighters.

The brief footage showed him being hauled by his hair from the hood of a truck. To the shouts of someone saying "Keep him alive," he disappears from view and gunshots are heard.

"While he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him," a senior source in the NTC told Reuters before Jibril spoke of crossfire. "He might have been resisting."

Officials said Gaddafi's son Mo'tassim, also seen bleeding but alive in a video, had also died. Another son, heir-apparent Saif al-Islam, was variously reported to be surrounded, captured or killed as conflicting accounts of the day's events crackled around networks of NTC fighters rejoicing in Sirte.

In Benghazi, where in February Gaddafi disdainfully said he would hunt down the "rats" who had emulated their Tunisian and Egyptian neighbors by rising up against an unloved autocrat, thousands took to the streets, loosing off weapons and dancing under the old tricolor flag revived by Gaddafi's opponents.

Mansour el Ferjani, 49, a Benghazi bank clerk and father of five posed his 9-year-old son for a photograph holding a Kalashnikov rifle: "Don't think I will give this gun to my son," he said. "Now that the war is over we must give up our weapons and the children must go to school.

Accounts were hazy of his final hours, as befitted a man who retained an aura of mystery in the desert down the decades as he first tormented "colonial" Western powers by sponsoring militant bomb-makers from the IRA to the PLO and then embraced the likes of Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi in return for investment in Libya's extensive oil and gas fields.

There was no shortage of fighters willing to claim they saw Gaddafi, who long vowed to die in battle, cringing below ground, like Saddam eight years ago, and pleading for his life.

One description, pieced together from various sources, suggests Gaddafi tried to break out of his final redoubt at dawn in a convoy of vehicles after weeks of dogged resistance.

However, he was stopped by a French air strike and captured, possibly some hours later, after gun battles with NTC fighters who found him hiding in a drainage culvert.

NATO said its warplanes fired on a convoy near Sirte about 8:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. ET), striking two military vehicles in the group, but could not confirm that Gaddafi had been a passenger. France later said its jets had halted the convoy.

Fierce street fighting had erupted in Gaddafi’s sole remaining bastion of Sirte on Tuesday, as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a surprise visit to Tripoli in a bid to forge closer ties with the new regime.

NTC fighters had suffered at least two deaths and dozens of injuries in the first 40 minutes of battle, as Sirte's streets reverberated with the sound of heavy gunfire, rockets and mortars.

Fighters were running in their hundreds through the streets of the last two neighborhoods that had been still in the hands of the loyalists, the Dollar and Number Two.

Pickup trucks brought the wounded back to a field hospital opened on the edge of the neighborhood, with the AFP reporter counting at least 35 injured.

The bodies of two fighters hit directly with mortars were brought to the clinic wrapped in blankets, which were still smoldering.

"They are shooting at us from everywhere, with snipers, mortars and RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades]," said one fighter, Tahar Burzeza. "It is brutal inside. We are being shot from everywhere."

American filmmaker Matthew van Dyke, who took up arms with the rebels after he was released in August from six months in Gaddafi's notorious Abu Salim prison, was in the thick of Tuesday's fighting on the eastern side of Sirte.

World leaders have hailed the death of former Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi as the end of an era of despotism and tyranny, and have held out hope for a better future for the north African nation.

As Libyans on the streets of Tripoli and Sirte fired automatic weapons into the air and danced for joy, US President Barack Obama said the death on Thursday of the man who had ruled the oil-rich country for 42 years ended a long, painful chapter.

'This is a momentous day in the history of Libya, the dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted,' Obama said, adding Gaddafi's demise vindicated the collective military action launched by the West earlier this year.

He urged Libyans to now look to the future and build a 'democratic' and 'tolerant' nation.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also welcomed a chance for Libya's 'democratic future' as he remembered Gaddafi's victims, including those who died in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Gaddafi's death was 'a major step forward in the battle fought for more than eight months by the Libyan people to liberate themselves from the dictatorial and violent regime imposed on them for more than 40 years,' said French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

'A new page is turning for the Libyan people, one of reconciliation in unity and freedom.'

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said Gaddafi's death was an historic moment not just for the Libyan people, but for the wider Arab world and for people generally searching for political freedom, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says.

'We now stand ready to assist Libya in new ways, including the building of its new democratic institutions and electoral processes,' Rudd said.

French, US and British forces spearheaded the air campaign against Gaddafi's military by the NATO military alliance, which has launched nearly 1000 strike sorties since March 31.

The transatlantic alliance said it would begin winding down its six-month mission on Friday, as Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen invited the Libyan people to now 'truly decide their own future.'

Muhammad al-Senussi, the heir apparent in Libya's overthrown monarchy, called for a display of unity from his people, while acknowledging the 'challenges' that lie ahead. Now that Gaddafi was gone, Egypt's government expressed hope for a 'new chapter' in Libya and pledged support in rebuilding the country.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also welcomed the news of Gaddafi's death on Thursday, arguing his demise and that of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein were 'proof of the potential of the people.'

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the events in Libya ushered in a 'historic transition' for the country.

'The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges. Now is the time for all Libyans to come together,' he said at UN headquarters.

In Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said 'now the war is over.'

'Sic transit gloria mundi (thus passes the glory of the world),' Berlusconi added.

The Vatican's number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, prayed for 'peace in the country and democracy.'

In Brussels, the European Union welcomed 'the end of an era of despotism.'

The news also means an end to the 'repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long,' EU president Herman Van Rompuy said in a joint statement with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Gaddafi's death left the way clear for a new, peaceful, political start, urging the country to move swiftly toward democracy.

Gaddafi was fatally wounded as new regime forces launched a final assault on the last pocket of resistance in his hometown of Sirte, a National Transitional Council spokesman said.

UAE: The ninth meeting of the Supreme Military Committee of the GCC Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff was concluded this week.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Lt. Gen. Hamad Mohammed Thani Al-Rumaithi, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates.

The meeting addressed the military and defense cooperation among the GCC members states, and reviewed the participation of the Peninsula Shield Forces with the Bahraini Defense Force in securing some vital installations in the Kingdom of Bahrain during the incidents that took place there recently.

YEMEN: Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Wednesday he was ready to sign a Gulf-brokered deal for him to quit office but demanded American and European guarantees on a timetable.

"I would sign. But provide guarantees to implement the Gulf initiative," Saleh, reiterating his claimed willingness to leave power after 33 years in office, told a party meeting, Saba state news agency reported.

"We want, first, Gulf guarantees, second, European, and third, American. These three guarantees should accompany the Gulf initiative," he added, standing defiant after nine months of deadly protests demanding his ouster.

"Part of the pressure being exerted now stems from demands that it (the deal) is signed without any conditions and that the time framework (for implementation) be discussed at a later stage," he complained.

Under the terms of the Gulf initiative tabled earlier this year, Saleh would hand power to the vice president 30 days after the signing, and he and his aides would be granted immunity from prosecution by parliament.

A national unity government led by a prime minister from the opposition would be formed, and a presidential election would follow 60 days after Saleh's departure.

"We have said that we are ready to endorse the (Gulf) initiative, but do you not want us to discuss the time framework for its mechanism," added the veteran leader whose presidential term ends in 2013.

He did not elaborate on the timetable he wants.

Scores were killed over the weekend when his forces and loyalist gunmen fired at protesters in Sana’a, and in clashes between his loyalists on one side and dissident troops and tribesmen who sided with protesters on the other.

The UN Security Council is to vote, possibly as early as this week, on a measure condemning the escalating violence in Yemen, a senior Western diplomat in New York said.

A draft resolution has been circulated among the Security Council's 15 members.

The measure was to be discussed on Wednesday at the level of experts and submitted to a vote by the end of this week or early next week, the diplomat said.

The 15 members have no major objections to the draft, and the five veto-wielding permanent members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- are in favor, the diplomat said.

EGYPT:

Egypt’s armed forces have ended large scale military maneuvers in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel.

The official Middle East News Agency says the weeklong maneuvers, code-named "Badr-2010," included an exercise to cross the Suez Canal as well as a simulation of an offensive thrust deep into enemy territory.

MENA says that warplanes, helicopters, armored units, special forces and paratroopers took part in the exercises. The agency said Friday that similar drills were held in Sinai last week. Israel has protested against such exercises in the past because the enemy was meant to be the Jewish state.

Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, under which Egypt agreed not to deploy major army units on parts of Sinai close to the Israeli border.

Egypt ruling's military council, facing its worst crisis since the fall of ex-President Hosni Mubarak, was on Wednesday forced into an extraordinary denial of claims it was responsible for violence in which at least 25 people, mostly Coptic Christians, died at the weekend.

Under mounting pressure to explain the deaths of so many members of an often beleaguered minority, two generals spoke publicly to claim that the army was attacked by protesting Christians with swords and Molotov cocktails.

They denied numerous eye witness accounts and the testimony of hospitals that many of those who died were either shot by soldiers or run over by speeding army vehicles.

"This cannot be attributed to the armed forces, and this cannot be recorded in history, that the armed forces ran over people," said Gen. Adel Umara. He also denied that the soldiers had been issued with live bullets.

The violence broke out at the end of a march to Cairo's central television station by Christians protesting against attacks on churches by radical Islamists in the south of the country. But the fallout has given rise to claims that the army are deliberately inciting unrest to justify maintaining a grip on the country.

State television broadcast calls for Muslims to rally to the defense of the army, which it claimed was under attack from Christian mobs. But activists posted film online showing the army wading into apparently peaceful marchers.

Several videos showed armored personnel carriers driving into the crowd at speed, and one showed a soldier firing into the crowd from the back of a van.

Some of the Christian activists involved also took part in the demonstrations which toppled Mubarak in March, and have pointed to the similarity of the authorities' response. Like then, the army tried to blame the unrest on "third parties" – usually a reference to a foreign, particularly Israeli, conspiracy.

"The basic fact is there are enemies of the country who take advantage of the protests to infiltrate and realize destructive roles," the second general, Mahmoud Hegazi, said. "We should all be aware."

But the army council received a stern warning from the United States, which has provided extensive aid to the Egyptian military.

Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, warned the government "to ensure that the fundamental rights of all Egyptians are respected, including the rights of religious freedom, peaceful assembly and the end of military trials for civilians, and that efforts be made to address sectarian tensions".

Several videos showed armored personnel carriers driving into the crowd at speed, and one showed a soldier firing into the crowd from the back of a van.

Some of the Christian activists involved also took part in the demonstrations which toppled Mubarak in March, and have pointed to the similarity of the authorities' response. Like then, the army tried to blame the unrest on "third parties" – usually a reference to a foreign, particularly Israeli, conspiracy.

"The basic fact is there are enemies of the country who take advantage of the protests to infiltrate and realize destructive roles," the second general, Mahmoud Hegazi, said. "We should all be aware."

But the army council received a stern warning from the United States, which has provided extensive aid to the Egyptian military.

Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, warned the government "to ensure that the fundamental rights of all Egyptians are respected, including the rights of religious freedom, peaceful assembly and the end of military trials for civilians, and that efforts be made to address sectarian tensions".

WASHINGTON:

The United States is hopeful Israel and the Palestinians will hold a preliminary meeting to revive peace talks on October 23 in Jordan, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

"The proposal that they are discussing with the parties is for October 23 in Jordan and we are very hopeful that both parties will take up that offer," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily briefing.

She was referring to a proposal floated by the "Quartet" of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and United States, which on September 23 called on the parties to hold a preliminary meeting within a month and resume peace talks with a view to resolving their dispute by the end of 2012.

It is unclear whether the two sides are willing to compromise over the central issue that caused talks to break down more than a year ago -- Israel's construction of Jewish settlements on West Bank land.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that Israel halt all settlement building in the West Bank, which Israel occupied during the 1967 Middle East war, before Palestinians will restart talks.

Israel has made clear it is not ready to suspend settlement expansion beyond a 10-month hiatus it implemented a year ago, an issue over which U.S.-sponsored negotiations between the sides have remained frozen since September 2010.

Last month, Abbas formally asked the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a move opposed by Israel and the United States. They say only a negotiated peace can end the Middle East conflict and create a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

TURKEY:

Kurdish guerrillas killed 24 Turkish soldiers in attacks on military posts in southeastern Turkey this week, security sources told Reuters, the biggest single death toll for Turkish security forces in years.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a planned visit to Kazakhstan after the attacks, sources in his office said.

At least 18 soldiers were also wounded when militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) opened fire on military outposts in Cukurca and Yuksekova districts in Hakkari province on the border with Iraq, the sources said.

Earlier, the sources said 21 soldiers had been killed but later raised the toll. Turkey’s armed forces could not be immediately reached for comment. The PKK did not immediately claim responsibility for the attacks.

The attacks come only a day after five policemen and three civilians, including a 2-year-old girl, were killed in a roadside bomb attack planted by suspected Kurdish rebels in nearby Bitlis province.

Wednesday’s attacks also come only days after Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited troops in the region to boost morale in an area that has seen increased violence in recent months.

Kurdish separatists have stepped up their attacks in southeastern Turkey, killing more than 50 Turkish security personnel since July.

The Turkish military has launched retaliatory air raids on Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq.

Kurdish rebels took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have died in the conflict. They have bases in northern Iraq from which they cross the border to attack Turkish targets.

The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.