Updated Sunday June 19 7:21 a.m. ET
United Nations investigators have have long accused Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his security forces of war crimes, but now Libya's rebels claim to have written proof.
Thousands of documents are supposedly being kept safely hidden in the besieged port city of Misrata which, among other things, allegedly contain written orders to bombard and starve the people of that city, The Guardian reports.
Among the many damning items contained in the documents, the worst might be an alleged message from Qaddafi himself, which investigators claim orders his troops to obliterate Misrata and have the "blue sea turned red" with the blood of its inhabitants.Continue »
Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, Saudi Arabia
Length of rule: 6 years. King Abdullah ascended to the throne in 2005, following the death of his half-brother, King Fahd. Abdullah's family, known as the House of Saud, has ruled Saudi Arabia since its inception in 1932. Elections, even on the municipal level, are rare in Saudi Arabia, and the House of Saud, despite being a relatively new monarchy in the world, follows a very traditional (read: totally undemocratic) line of succession with its rulers and top government officials.Continue »
Five people who would be heroes in America are currently sitting in a Pakistani jail, having been arrested for their part in feeding the CIA information on Osama bin Laden's hideout there.
One of the men arrested includes a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, The New York Times reports. Another person arrested includes the man who owned the safe house rented to the CIA while it gathered information for the May 2 bin Laden operation, the Associated Press reports.
Details of the arrests and the current condition of those arrested are sketchy. The news came to The Times from U.S. officials with knowledge of a closed briefing last week with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Michael J. Morell, the deputy C.I.A. director.Continue »
Bashar Assad, Syria
Length of rule: 11 years. Assad ascended to the presidency in 2000, taking over for his father, Hafez Assad, who had ruled for 29 years. Assad was elected in a national referendum to a second 7-year term in 2007 with more than 97 percent of the vote. While the interior ministry said turnout was "enormous" for that election, without giving exact figures, the opposition had called for a boycott and decried the voting process as rigged.Continue »
Mohammed VI, Morocco
Length of rule: 12 years. King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne in 1999, replacing his deceased (of natural causes) father, King Hassan II. King Mohammed is from the Alaoui dynasty, which has ruled Morocco since the mid-17th century.Continue »
As far as internet hoaxes go, this one was a doozy.
The story goes as follows: A popular blog called "A Gay Girl in Damascus" began receiving lots of attention around the world as the Syrian uprising turned violent and deadly. The blog was particularly striking not just because it described the challenging life of a lesbian in a closed, conservative Middle Eastern society, but because of its open anti-Syrian regime bent in a country well-known for hard repression.
The attention paid to the blog went through the roof when the alleged girl behind the blog, named "Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari," was said to have been kidnapped by Syrian authorities. An internet campaign demanding her release followed. International news wires, newspapers, TV shows and the like, including CBS News, began running stories, often with a picture of a beautiful, short-haired girl accompanying them.
Then, Syrian activists and journalists around the world began to cast doubt on the whole story.
Well, it turns out the doubters were right.Continue »
Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Bahrain
Length of rule: 12 years. Hamad became Emir of Bahrain in 1999 upon the death of his father, Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and declared himself king in 2002. The country has been run by the al-Khalifa dynasty since 1783, and they hold unmatched political power to this day.Continue »
Ismael Omar Guelleh, Djibouti
Length of rule: 12 years. Guelleh was anointed as president in 1999 as the handpicked successor to his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had ruled Djibouti since independence 22 years earlier. Gammeh was recently sworn in for a third term as president after he won 80 percent of the vote in a presidential election in April that was largely boycotted by the opposition amid complaints over widespread irregularities.Continue »
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria
Length of rule: 12 years. After having term limits abolished, Bouteflika won a third five-year term as president in 2009, having won that and the 2004 election with an absurd margin of victory. He first won the presidency in 1999 with the backing of the military, in part by promising to end the violence that rocked the country after the cancellation of parliamentary elections in 1992, which an Islamic party was allegedly set to win.Continue »
Abdullah II, Jordan
Length of rule: 12 years. King Abdullah II assumed control of the throne of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after his father, King Hussein, passed away of natural causes in 1999. Their family has ruled Jordan with unmatched control since it became an independent state in 1946.Continue »
Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia
Length of rule: 16 years. Zenawi helped lead the rebel movement that overthrew a brutal military dictatorship in 1991, and in 1995 was elected prime minister, a post he still holds. After heavily disputed elections in 2005 that featured his ruling party announcing victory in a close election before the votes were counted, Zenawi's Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front and a small coalition of affiliated parties won 99.6 percent of all parliamentary seats in May elections this year which "fell short of international commitments," Amnesty International writes.Continue »
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had a busy, headline-making day on Tuesday.
He verbally assaulted the International Atomic Energy Agency, claiming the U.N. nuclear watchdog has discredited the world body by alleging that Iran may be working on a nuclear weapons program, the Associated Press reports.
Ahmadinejad also allegedly claimed the Bahraini regime is violently cracking down on protesters "for the sake of the United States' illegitimate interests."
Then, the semi-official Fars News Agency in Iran claimed the country had sent submarines to the Red Sea in the first such deployment by the country's navy in distant waters.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is the news that Ahmadinejad admitted for the first time to the deep rift between his cabinet and the ruling clerics of the country.Continue »
Hamad bin Khalifa Al Than, Qatar
Length of rule: 16 years. The al-Thani clan has ruled Qatar for nearly 200 years. Sheikh Hamad took power in a non-violent palace coup in 1995. The Christian Science Monitor writes: "In the summer of 1995, after getting the blessings of the various al-Thani factions, Sheikh Hamad staged a bloodless coup, calling his father at a Zurich hotel, according to local legend, and simply informing him of the change. His father, so it is told, hung up."Continue »
Aleksander Lukashenko, Belarus
Length of rule: 16 years. Lukashenko won his fourth term as president late last year in a vote widely decried as fraudulent - much like the preceding three elections. Even though he won 80 percent of the vote, Lukashenko still felt the need to accuse the opposition of "banditry."Continue »
Yahya Jammeh, Gambia
Length of rule: 17 years. Jammeh grabbed control of Gambia in a military coup in 1994, promising to turn the country back to democratic rule four years later. He has won three successive elections, and has announced plans to run again in a specially-called presidential election this coming November. Few, if any, international observers doubt the outcome.Continue »