Breaking down Middle East and North Africa unrest, country by country
Protests have erupted against regimes in Bahrain, top left, Libya, top right, Yemen, bottom right, and Syria, bottom left.
June 1st, 2011
11:00 AM ET

Breaking down Middle East and North Africa unrest, 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 Abedine Ben Ali. In many cases, these demonstrations and movements have been met with brute force and escalated into seemingly unending violence.

We take a look at what's next for the 'Arab Spring,' the roots of unrest from country to country, and look at the latest developments going on.

BAHRAIN

On Wednesday, Bahrain lifted state-of-emergency laws that had allowed for a crackdown on opposition leaders and journalists, while warning against anti-government activity.

The announcement by the country's Information Affairs Authority followed one from the justice ministry the day before, warning against "any type of activities that could affect the security or harm the national peace and safety."

The lifting of the emergency laws, imposed in mid-March, is thought to be an effort to signal an end to months of civil unrest.

On Tuesday, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa appealed for dialogue, saying that talks with opposition groups are scheduled to begin in July.

GPS: How radical are Bahrain's Shia?

Bahrain warns against state protests

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 Muslim majority have staged protests to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption, issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address.

SYRIA

Syria on Tuesday announced that it is granting "amnesty" to protesters accused of committing crimes.

But a report published by the state-run news agency seemed to suggest the protesters were not actually being offered amnesty, as in a general pardon, but were having their punishments for alleged crimes decreased.

An announcement on state-run television said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree granting amnesty to protesters arrested for crimes committed before Tuesday.

The announcement came after weeks of Syrian officials describing some protesters as "terrorists" trying to destabilize the country.

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GPS: What Syria's neighbors are thinking

Roots of Unrest:

A U.N. official says that as many as 850 people may have died since the unrest began in mid-March after teens were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti in Daraa. 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.

YEMEN

Four missiles struck a compound where generals who defected from the Yemeni regime were meeting, a spokesman for the defected generals said Wednesday.

The spokesman, Askar Zuail, said there were no injuries or deaths as a result of the Tuesday-night assault, which he believes was committed by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime.

A government spokesman denied the report to Al Jazeera on Tuesday. A senior defense ministry official who did not want to be named for security reasons also denied the claim to CNN.

The generals who defected are now running the largest military base in Sanaa. But despite such cracks in Saleh regime, the deadly unrest rages on.

Fierce clashes erupted between government security forces and Hashed tribesmen Wednesday in front of the Ministry of Local Administration in Sanna, eyewitnesses and residents said.

The Hashed tribe has opposed government forces in intermittent fighting for more than a month.

Fifteen tribesmen have died and 31 have been injured from clashes in the past two days, said Abdul Qawi Qaisi, spokesman for the head of Hashed tribe.

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 steeped 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.

LIBYA

NATO has decided to extend its mission in Libya by 90 days, continuing a campaign that began in March, the alliance announced Wednesday.

Resolution 1973 was approved by the U.N. Security Council in March and authorized member states "to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."

The Libyan government has accused NATO of killing hundreds of civilians and wounding thousands more, during a two-month long bombing campaign in Libya.

CNN cannot independently verify the figures.

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GPS: Can Libya's stalemate be broken?

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.

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Filed under: Arab unrest: developments • Bahrain • Libya • Middle East • Syria • Yemen
soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. Alfredo

    Bashar Assad needs to be taken out with a bullet to his head. Syria, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Yemen,etc are all ripe for revolution to remove their SO B dictators.....

    June 1, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      What country do you think has propped up most these horrible dictators all these years?

      June 29, 2011 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. jj

    Lmao, sure i'll keep that in mind, thank you

    June 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Maurice

    This article is supposed to be sooo informative, yet it didn't say anything about the CIA, Mosad, corporate greed, or Islamic extremists, now did it?

    June 2, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dbl D

    I think the United States needs to put into use more of their military might into compounds known where these dictators may be enjoying their useless lives.
    Kill all these rouge dictators, even if like ya need to "spend the weekend at bin ladens" again briefly, the people of these countries deserve the same freedom we all share here!

    June 2, 2011 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
    • arthur

      Why would the usa do that? Seems counter productive since the usa put them in power and then supported them.

      June 2, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  5. _S.T.A.R_

    "SHAME!" U all continue 2 judge each other, as "GODS!" U just don't want 2 open ur eyes, 2 see what ur doing 2 each other! No matter, what religion ur in or where ur from or what race u r, "GOD" sees us all the same! As 4 what is taking place & has taken place & remains in "GODS HANDS" & THE PEOPLE GOING THRU THE SITUATION AT HAND! Only the people & "GOD" can fix & repair it, if it's meant 2 be... 4 if it isn't, it will never be fixed or repaired, but by u cutting each other down & believing ur all "RIGHT" in what u say 2 each other, not knowing 4 a "FACT," if it's true or not! Only makes matters worse 4 those living in these countries, going thru it all, if u truly believe in "GOD" & serve him. Then pray 4 one another in time of need & trials & tribulations, that "GOD" will change it 4 the better & not the worse & help them. So that the end of time, will not be upon us sooner, than it needs 2 be... LEARN 2 FORGIVE & FORGET THINGS OF THE PAST, BUT LOOK FORWARD 2 THE FUTURE, THAT AWAITS U, IN THE DAYS 2 COME.

    June 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. _S.T.A.R_

    An ask "GOD" 4 FORGIVENESS! 4 the things u have said & have done against him! Before it's 2 late & try praying & reading the word of "GOD" sometime & seek 4 ur salavation... 4 every knee shall bow before him! 4 he holds the key 2 ur eternal life... May u be a unbeliever or NOT!

    June 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. _S.T.A.R_

    I just want 2 thank CNN, 4 bring us the news, on what is happening around the world & i would also like 2 say, "keep up the good work." 4 my prayers r with u & those over seas, bring us the news & awareness on what's happening across the world today... GOD BLESS U & MAY GOD KEEP HIS HANDS UPON U ALL & KEEP U SAFE FROM HARMS WAY TODAY & 4EVER...

    June 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. zack

    You tyrants either take your billions and purchase your own island or you will be taken out manually.
    Great example is Yemen. Get out or they will take you out.
    Syria this goes for you as well. Killing the innocent will just fuel the protests even more.
    THey should learn from King of JOrdan..
    When you go out to protest the police give you refreshments . LOL..
    Although he was caught in Vegas on his Harley gambling his peoples money away the guy still had the balls to
    give OJ and Maxwell house coffee to the protests.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. zack

    http://english.aljazeera.net/
    brings you up to date news from the middle east
    this just in Yemen president injured in a attack on his palace.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dwane

    Wouldn`t it be cool to throw a few boxes of grenades into those crowds and then sit back and watch the fun. Maybe a few "Mohammad sucks" posters too just for good measure.

    June 3, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. nural

    if bashar al asad al qaddhafi stay on power,alqaida will win,because the idea that arab can change regime peace ,will turn to be wrong,but sadly the usa need alqada to explain why they need to spent 680 billion of dollar in militry,and not in education,stupid voter ,stupid voters easy to manipulate

    June 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brad Bienvenu

    They should take all of these sadistic rulers and execute them for what they have done in the past many years. They all think they are above the law. No one is above the law when they cause the hard ship they are forcing on their own people.

    June 11, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
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