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Libyan Fighter Jet Crashes near Benghazi as Pilot Rejects to Bomb City

A fighter pilot disobeyed orders on Wednesday to bomb the opposition stronghold of Benghazi and ditched his plane after he and his co-pilot ejected, a Libyan newspaper reported on its website.

The Russian-made Sukhoi 22 crashed near Ajdabiya, 160 kilometers west of the city which has fallen to anti-regime protesters, a military source said, quoted in Quryna newspaper.

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Ahmadinejad: Mideast Upheaval will Reach America

Iran's president said Wednesday he is certain the wave of unrest in the Middle East will spread to Europe and North America, bringing an end to governments he accused of oppressing and humiliating people.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose own country resorted to violence to disperse an opposition rally earlier this month, also condemned Libya's use of force against demonstrators, calling it "grotesque."

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King Abdullah Flies Home after Treatment in Morocco

King Abdullah Returns to Riyadh, Boosts Social Benefits

Saudi King Abdullah arrived in his homeland Wednesday after three months abroad, boosting social benefits for his people as he returned to a Middle East rocked by anti-regime uprisings.

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Bahrain Frees 23 Shiites Accused of Terror

Bahraini authorities have released 23 Shiite activists who were being held on charges of terrorism after a pardon by King Hamad, an opposition MP told Agence France Presse on Wednesday.

"The 23 have been released," said MP Jassem Hussein, a member of the Islamic National Accord Association, which controls the largest bloc in the 40-strong parliament.

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Arab League Bars Libya from Meetings as Security Council Holds Crisis Talks

The Arab League on Tuesday barred Libya from its meetings until Tripoli responds to the demands of protesters, threatening to suspend its membership after clashes that have killed hundreds.

The League decided to "stop the government of Libya from participating in meetings of the Arab League and all bodies affiliated to it, until the Libyan authorities respond to demands, guaranteeing the security and stability of its people," it said in a statement.

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Defiant Gadhafi Vows 'Holy March' to Crush Revolt, Slams Protesters as 'Rats'

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi vowed to fight on to his "last drop of blood" and roared at his supporters to take to the streets against protesters demanding his ouster, shouting and pounding his fist in a furious speech Tuesday after two nights of a bloody crackdown in the capital trying to crush the uprising that has fragmented his regime.

It was the second time Gadhafi has appeared during the week of upheaval across his country. Swathed in brown robes and a turban, he spoke on state TV from behind a podium in the entrance of his bombed-out Tripoli residence hit by U.S. airstrikes in the 1980s and left unrepaired as a monument of defiance.

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Israel on High Alert as Syria-Bound Iranian Warships Enter Mediterranean

Israel put its navy on high alert and said it would respond immediately to any "provocation" as two Iranian warships sailed through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean on Tuesday.

The Iranian vessels entered the southeastern Mediterranean after going up the canal for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, reportedly en route for Syria, in a move taking them past Israeli territorial waters.

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Protesters Stage Mass Rally against Bahrain Ruler

Tens of thousands of supporters of Bahrain's Shiite-led opposition poured into a Manama square on Tuesday calling for the government's downfall in the largest rally in more than a week of protests.

Streets of the capital were clogged as protesters marched from Manama's Bahrain Mall to Pearl Square, the focal point of anti-regime demonstrations that have gripped the Gulf state since February 14.

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Medvedev Says Arab Unrest Risks Bringing 'Fanatics' to Power

The unrest in the Middle East risks bringing fanatics to power and triggering the disintegration of Arab states into "little pieces", Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Tuesday.

Medvedev made the startling comments at a meeting in Russia's conflict-torn Northern Caucasus and warned that the events in the Middle East could have a direct effect on security in Russia itself.

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Assad Says Arab Leaders Must Tune in to People's Needs

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday told a delegation of visiting U.S. senators that Arab leaders should tune in to their people's needs, state-run SANA news agency reported.

As anti-regime revolts rock several Arab nations, Assad said it is necessary "to better understand the will of the people and to carry out policies that reflect" their demands, SANA reported.

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