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Libya dominated the news as its ruler Muammar Gaddafi deployed tanks and fighter aircraft to put down citizens' protests. By the end of the week Gaddafi's authority appeared to be confined to the area around the capital Tripoli. Several Libyan ambassadors disowned Gaddafi but he continued to say he would fight the insurrection. Meanwhile tens of thousands of non-Libyan workers in the country tried to leave by land, sea and air.

Oil prices rose rapidly: Brent Crude passed $115 a barrel in London and West Texas Intermediate touched $100 in New York. Investors turned to precious metals as a safe haven, pushing the price of silver to a 33-year high.

In Cote d'Ivoire the internationally recognised winner of the November presidential election extended his earlier ban on the export of cocao, the country's main export, in order to force the incumbent president from office from lack of funds. However, cocao stocks were piling up in ports and increasing the risk of decay. There were reports of growing military activity in the West African country that could lead to civil war.

Two Iranian warships passed through the Suez Canal for the first time in 30 years, en route to Syria. Israel protested at the ships' presence off its shores, describing it as “provocative”.