Libyan opposition forces make solid advances against Col. Gadhafi’s army. In a prime-time speech, President Obama defended American involvement in the coalition effort. We’ll have the raw politics, the reactions, and the potential midterm effects. Plus, the latest on the volatile situations in Syria and Yemen, and powerful new video of the tsunami hitting Japan.
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CNN Wire Staff
Just a month ago, members of the Libyan opposition army were civilians of all ages and from all walks of life.
Wesam, 22, was in college.
Ahmed, 32, is a husband, father and an engineer.
Adrees, 18, was studying business.
But now, they're amateur soldiers in the rickety rebel army of Libyan opposition. They say they're united by one mission - to topple the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
Since protests began in earnest in February, there has been no single, unifying figure in charge of the revolt. People of all ages and tribal affiliations have been taking part.
One man told CNN that when government forces began using live ammunition against the protesters, it turned the whole community against them.
With the rebels pushing west, gaining momentum and territory, a Libya without Gadhafi appears more likely by the day.
But whether democracy will follow is far from clear. Libya has long been a patchwork of tribes and rival sects, kept largely intact in the grip of Gadhafi's autocratic regime.
Charles S. Faddis
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Charles S. Faddis is a retired CIA operations officer and the former head of CIA's WMD terrorism unit. He is the author of several works of nonfiction, including "Beyond Repair," an argument for the creation of a new intelligence agency modeled on the World War II-era OSS. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Charles S. Faddis.
From July 2002 to May 2003, I was in charge of a CIA base in the mountains of Kurdistan, running intelligence collection operations and covert action directed at the regime of Saddam Hussein.
We had a host of missions to perform, but one of our key tasks was to persuade Iraqi military leaders to lay down their arms and come over to our side in advance of the American invasion of the country in the spring of 2003.
We made contact with hundreds of military officers. The vast majority posed no objection to Saddam's ouster. Many effectively said they planned to sit out the coming conflict. Almost none would agree to take actions against the regime in advance of seeing American troops enter Baghdad.
The reason, as we repeatedly explained to Washington, was that the struggle for the allegiance of the Iraqi military was psychological, and we were losing.
CNN Wire Staff
Syrian security forces flooded the restive cities of Daraa and Latakia on Monday, patrolling the streets, protecting government buildings and in at least one case clashing with protesters, according to witnesses.
Both cities have been the scene of violent clashes between protesters and security forces in recent days, with at least 37 deaths since last week, according to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In Daraa on Monday, forces filed into the city's main square before dawn, tearing down the tents and anti-government signs of about 100 protesters who were staying there overnight, according to one eyewitness. The forces fired shots into the air and turned water cannons on the protesters, the witness said, leading to a clash with hundreds of nearby residents who rushed to the square to defend the demonstrators.
The resulting confrontation lasted about 30 minutes, reportedly without injuries or arrests, according to the witness.
Another witness said the army was blocking the city on three sides and that security forces, surrounding government buildings and the Al-Omari mosque where some protesters remained, had opened fire. The witness was not aware of any injuries.
Syria's state-run news agency said the government denied firing on protesters, calling the allegations "completely false."
Political dissident Aman Aswad, who is in Daraa, said the city is extremely tense. "People are sitting at home scared, watching the updates on TV," he said.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
On the week of the one-year anniversary of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi toured a brand new medical and dental facility in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Update: Beat 360° Winners:
“They say working out a budget deal is like pulling teeth, so…."
Jane B in KC
"This chair, we upholstered in 'Boehner Orange'!"
CNN Associate Producer
Americans remain divided over support for the military operation in Libya, according to a new poll.
In the Pew Research Center survey released Monday, 47 percent of those surveyed think airstrikes were the right decision, 36 percent think they were the wrong decision and 17 percent did not know.
The division remains when broken down by political party. Fifty-four percent of Republicans, 49 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents said the airstrikes were the right decision.
When asked if the United States and its allies have a clear goal for the military action in the African country, 50 percent said no, 39 percent said yes and 11 percent did not know. Forty-one percent of Republicans, 48 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of independents said the troops have a clear goal.
Sixty percent of those surveyed said military involvement will last for some time compared with 33 percent who said action will end quickly and seven percent who did not know.
CNN Wire Staff
She burst into a Tripoli, Libya, hotel over the weekend, pleading with journalists to tell the world that she was raped by government troops. As security forces subdued the screaming woman and dragged her away, she warned, "If you don't see me tomorrow, then that's it."
Two days later, reporters have not seen Eman al-Obeidy.
The same government that took her away is insisting she is fine. But reporters and human rights activists have not been able to see her, and her whereabouts are unclear.
"I am not ashamed of my daughter," al-Obeidy's mother told Al-Jazeera television Monday. "I am proud of her because she has broken the barrier. She broke the barrier that no man can break. And those dogs there with him, Moammar, (are) the criminals!"
Al-Obeidy's family said she is a lawyer - and not a prostitute or mentally ill as Libyan government officials initially said after the incident. The government later changed its story, saying she was sane and was pursuing a criminal case.
Al-Obeidy's family said they were offered money if she would change her story.
"Yesterday late at night at 3 a.m. they called me from Bab al Aziziya," Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli, al-Obeidy's mother told Al-Jazeera. "And they told me: Make your daughter Eman change her statement ... and we will release her immediately and whatever you ask for you will get, whether money, or a new apartment, or guaranteeing financial security for you and your children. But just tell Eman to change her statement."
"I called my daughter and said, 'My daughter, stand firm! Stand firm!' She said, 'I will stand firm and I will never change my statement.' "
It was not clear how al-Obeidy's mother reached her by phone.
A government spokesman said Sunday that al-Obeidy had been released and was "with her family."
A group of lawyers and human rights activists tried to approach her sister's house Monday, but were blocked by security forces. Al-Obeidy's sister's mobile phone has apparently been turned off, a source with the Lebanese opposition in Tripoli told CNN. And no one has seen the sister since the incident at the hotel.