June 24th, 2011
01:41 PM ET

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

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 about the roots of the unrest.

SYRIA

The European Council on Friday condemned "in the strongest possible terms the ongoing repression and unacceptable and shocking violence the Syrian regime continues to apply against its own citizens."

"By choosing a path of repression instead of fulfilling its own promises on broad reforms, the regime is calling its legitimacy into question," the council said.

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday after Muslim prayers, as they had on past Fridays in recent weeks. Protests were held in various locations, including Hama, Homs, Deir El Zour, Idlib, Qameshli, Latakia, and in neighborhoods of Damascus, according to Rami Abdelrahman, head of the London-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights.

GPS: Why the odds are against the protesters in Syria

The group reported 11 deaths: 10 in Friday demonstrations and one death from injuries suffered in a demonstration a few days ago.

Damascus streets contrast sharply with border chaos

On Thursday, the alliance voted to expand sanctions against Syria by freezing the assets of seven people and four businesses with connections to the regime. Among those sanctioned were three commanders in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps accused of helping the "regime suppress protests" and "providing equipment and support" to the government, according to the European Union Official Journal.

Abdelrahman said that in al-Kasweh, in the province of Damascus, security forces fired at protesters, resulting in injuries. Estimated deaths have exceeded 1,600, he said, with 1,316 civilians and 341 soldiers and security forces killed.

An estimated 10,000 people have been jailed, Abdelrahman said, but that number is fluid because there have been many releases and new detentions. The military crackdown has spurred the flight of refugees from Syria into Turkey.

At least 11,739 refugees are now in Turkey, the Hatay governor's office in Turkey said Friday.

Roots of unrest: 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 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 that had been in effect since 1963. But security forces then moved quickly to crack down. Government opponents allege massive human rights abuses.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has chartered ships to ferry people cut off from their families since war erupted four months ago.

LIBYA

The Libyan opposition said Friday that leader Moammar Gadhafi's exit from the country was an absolute prerequisite for any peaceful solution to take hold in the north African nation.

Women carried luggage and diaper bags and held the hands of their children as they walked onto the Ionis, a ship that carried 300 people from the port of Tripoli, the capital, to Benghazi, the de facto capital of the Libyan opposition. The Ionis is scheduled to return to Tripoli later Friday, carrying people from Benghazi to reunite with family members.

Agency reunites divided Libyan families

The ICRC said it hopes to carry as many as 700 people out of Tripoli, still under the control of Gadhafi and under fire almost daily from NATO airstrikes. The agency said it has received 950 requests from people desperate to get out.

What's really going on in Gadhafi's Tripoli?

Nineteen Libyan army officers were among 49 refugees who fled to Tunisia, the Tunisian Afrique Presse news agency reported Friday. They arrived Thursday at the port in El Ktef, along the Libyan border.

Another 38 Libyans, including senior officials, arrived at the same port Wednesday, TAP said. They told TAP that 15,000 people had been killed in the Libyan conflict and that 30,000 others had been taken prisoner.

In Washington, the Republican-controlled House delivered a mixed message on America's role in the NATO-led Libya campaign Friday, opposing a resolution expressing support for the war while also voting down a bill restricting American involvement in the conflict.

GPS: 5 inadequate justifications for Libya intervention

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. They quickly gained strength, and the movement to oust Gadhafi after more than four decades in power exploded into civil war. NATO began airstrikes in March after a U..N. Security Council mandate to protect civilians.

YEMEN

The health of Yemen's wounded president is improving, but doctors are recommending that he stay in Saudi Arabia for a "longer time" to recover, an adviser said Friday.

Yemeni ruling party officials had been saying that President Ali Abdullah Saleh would return home Friday from Saudi Arabia, where he was taken for treatment after he was injured in a June 3 attack on the country's presidential palace.

Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered for demonstrations across Yemen. The biggest demonstrations are taking place in Sanaa, Taiz, Hodieda and Ibb provinces, witnesses said, and the protesters condemned U.S. and Saudi interference in Yemeni political affairs.

In Sanaa, tens of thousands of Saleh followers gathered to support him, demanding that the international community respect its constitutional president and not violate the Yemeni Constitution.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is expected to send a three-member delegation to Yemen on Monday for a 10-day mission to assess the human rights situation in the country in light of recent events.

It will meet government officials, human rights defenders, victims of rights violations, members of the political opposition and civil society, religious leaders and other U.N. agencies. It will try to meet displaced people and hopes to visit medical facilities and detention centers.

It will draft a report that will be made public and presented to the Human Rights Council at its next session in September. The mission is being conducted with the cooperation of Yemen's Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Roots of unrest: Inspired by the revolution in Egypt, demonstrators began protesting Saleh's 33-year-old regime on February 11. A month later, Saleh offered to draft a new constitution that would establish a parliamentary system, but protesters persisted in calling for his resignation, and numerous high-ranking political and military officials resigned or were dismissed. Saleh balked after making overtures to accept an agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council to step down, and fighting has escalated between security forces and opposition groups - primarily tribal forces and Islamic militants - since those efforts broke down in May.

BAHRAIN

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the agency is upset about the life sentences handed down to 21 political activists this week, citing concerns that "due process rights" were not respected and the trials appeared to reflect "political persecution."

"We call for an immediate cessation of trials of civilians in the Court of National Safety, and an immediate release of all peaceful demonstrators who were arrested in the context of the protest movement in February," according to the office of the high commissioner.

The office of the noted "worrying reports of the treatment in detention" of some protesters, including severe beatings and reports of deaths from "severe torture." It said the government must "must urgently conduct an independent investigation into these allegations."

Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, is sending a letter to the Bahrain king to express her concerns.

Roots of unrest: Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy. But some are now calling for the removal of the royal family, which has led the Persian Gulf state since the 18th century. Young members of the country's Shiite majority have staged protests in recent years to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption - issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said authorities launched a clampdown on dissent in 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists.

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Ellis

    Just don't ship them here. We have enough rag heads.

    June 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. jracforr

    All Islamic refugees are to be sent to Kurdistan this is the Middle East equivalent of the Netherlands which was also a place of refuge for Abraham and Jacob.This former homeland of the Dutch people can be restored to it's intended purpose as a place of refuge

    June 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mıcheal

      unfortunately there is no country or place as kurtistan.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. George Patton

    Isn't this the day that the much cursed Ali Abdullah Saleh returns to Yemen so he can butcher more of his own people? How nice it was for the Obama Administration to make it that much easier for him!!! This is a prime example of just how Hilary Clinton talks out of both sides of her mouth, preaching "freedom and democracy" and supporting this creep Saleh at the same time!!!

    June 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jazzzzzzzz

    I dated a Middle Eastern man once. He was too controlling. I dumped him.

    June 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Hello Jazzzzzzzz, I'm Joey Isotta-Fraschini. Like you, I don't have much on my mind either. Ignorance truly is bliss!!!!!

      June 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jazzzzzzzz

    Then you are most blissed you ignorant troll. LOL. He he.

    June 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    At JIF troll of 4:24 PM:
    If I could "send" you what my brain is doing when I'm working every day, you would have a seizure disorder.

    June 25, 2011 at 6:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RUFFNUTT

    i wonder if we got the arabs a bunch of "sleep numbers" beds that maybe we could end this unrest?

    or maybe water beds?

    June 26, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mima al-abdallal

    hello,

    If any one could help me to free my brohter in Syria, I would greatly appreciated. Please let me know can I get that on the news?? the Syria spies took him from his work.

    July 3, 2011 at 7:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Dee Larry

    Sometimes it is SO difficult to know what’s going on in the middle east! Since I have family there I’m always eager to hear the arab news !

    August 25, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse | Reply

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