Arab Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country
Syrian refugees in a camp on the Turkish border protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday.
June 16th, 2011
01:28 PM ET

Arab Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country

[Updated 1:28 p.m.] Countries in the Middle East and North Africa have been swept up in protests against longtime rulers since the January revolt that ousted Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In many cases, these demonstrations and movements have been met with brute force and escalated into seemingly unending violence.

Here are the latest developments from each country and information on the roots of the unrest.

SYRIA

The number of Syrian refugees now in Turkey stands at 8,904, Turkish emergency officials said on Thursday.

This increase comes as Turkish government officials, such as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, met with a special Syrian envoy to help stem the growing tide of refugees.

The U.N. human rights office called for "a thorough probe into the allegations of widespread abuses committed by Syrian authorities during their violent crackdown."

A preliminary report prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that as of mid-June, the number of those killed during such incidents is believed to have exceeded 1,100 persons, many of them unarmed civilians; among them were women and children." That's over a period of three months.

The OHCHR said reports indicate than up to 10,000 people have been detained over three months, and it has received information that security forces "have perpetrated acts of torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment against detainees, resulting in death in custody in some cases."

Syrian civilian: Why is our president killing us?

The report, which covers the period from March 15 to Wednesday, is based on data from U.N. agencies. human rights activists, a small number of victims and witnesses, and various groups. The OHCHR said it had to rely on these sources because it hasn't been able to get staffers "on the ground in Syria."

Roots of Unrest: More than 1,100 people may have died since the unrest began in mid-March after teens were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti in Daraa, according to Amnesty International. As the crackdown intensified, demonstrators changed their demands from calls for "freedom," "dignity" and an end to abuses by the security forces to calls for the regime's overthrow. On April 19, Syria's Cabinet lifted an emergency law, which had been in effect since 1963. But security forces then moved quickly to crack down. Government opponents allege massive human rights abuses.

Opinion: What could shake Syria's regime?

LIBYA

Elections watched by international observers could take place in Libya within three months, one of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's sons says in a published interview.

The European Union, the African Union, the United Nations or NATO could be present to ensure transparency, Saif Gadhafi told the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

He said the vote would be carried out "at the most at the end of the year."

Several explosions rattled Tripoli Thursday morning as Libyan state television reported bombardments in Sirte, east of Tripoli, and other areas.

Rebel forces said they have made progress in recent days in the fight against Gadhafi's forces. They've taken control of the mountainous Jebel Nafusa region southwest of Tripoli, said Ahmed Bani, an officer with the rebel forces. Rebels have also made gains in the western city of Zlitan, Bani said.

How will the Libya conflict play out?

U.S. lawmakers filed a suit Wednesday that challenges the nation's participation in the Libya mission, accusing President Barack Obama of failing to consult with Congress over the military effort in the North African country.

Capuano: U.S. action in Libya illegal

The White House denied that accusation, saying Obama has not violated the War Powers Resolution by intervening militarily for more than 60 days without seeking approval from Congress.

What does the Libya lawsuit mean?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Thursday that she believes Obama had the authority to engage U.S. forces in the Libya mission.

Roots of Unrest: Protests in Libya started in February when demonstrators, fed up with delays, broke into a housing project the government was building and occupied it. Gadhafi's government responded with a $24 billion fund for housing and development.

A month later, more demonstrations were sparked when police detained relatives of those killed in an alleged 1996 massacre at Abu Salim prison, according to Human Rights Watch. High unemployment and demands for freedom have also fueled the protests.

YEMEN

Security forces battled armed Islamic militants in one town and reports surfaced of arrests and deaths in two other cities.

Fighting erupted for six hours in the Lahj province capital of Hawta on Wednesday when armed Islamic militants attacked government compounds, according to a security official - who asked not to be named because he's not authorized to speak to the media.

Three people died and at least 12 people were wounded in the Wednesday clashes, the official said. The fierce fighting between security personnel and insurgents resumed on Thursday, witnesses said.

Yemeni state TV also reported unrest in the southern towns of Zinjibar and Aden. It said al Qaeda militants in Zinjibar killed two residents and injured another in a mortar attack, and it reported the arrests of 10 al Qaeda members and five other people for firing at civilians and ransacking stores in Aden's Mansoura area.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton classified al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operative Othman al-Ghamdi as a "specially designated global terrorist" under an executive order that "targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism."

A senior administration official told CNN that Ghamdi was released from the Guantanamo detention facility in 2006 and had been one of well over 100 detainees the Bush administration sent to Saudi Arabia.

Al-Ghamdi "has been involved in raising funds for the organization's operations and activities in Yemen" and has "worked with other AQAP members to plan and stockpile weapons for future attacks," the State Department said in a news release.

He appeared in a video alongside Fahd al-Quso, an AQAP operative wanted for his role in the USS Cole bombing in October 2000, the department said.

GPS: Saudi Arabia's Yemen dilemma

Roots of Unrest: Protesters have called for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled Yemen since 1978. The country has been wracked by a Shiite Muslim uprising, a U.S.-aided crackdown on al Qaeda operatives and a looming shortage of water.

High unemployment fuels much of the anger among a growing young population suffering in poverty. The protesters also cite government corruption and a lack of political freedom. Saleh has promised not to run for president in the next round of elections.

soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. supremeamerican

    mosques are telling them to do it. It's being orchestrated.

    June 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Amavet2

    Pack your K-Y....and lots of it!!!

    June 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shelnutt

    So you don't want the position of Ambassador to the Mid East, that's fine Steve all you had to say was "no".

    June 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Name

    thats great. What does that have to do with Arab Unrest?

    June 17, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
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