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.


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 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.

Report: Syrian abuses could be 'crimes against humanity'

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.


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.


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.

Libya: Zuma did not discuss 'exit' plan

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. Roy

    What a load of nonsense!
    The saddest part of all of this is the realization that Israel has wasted it's time of superiority – both military and moral. Rather than negotiating with a week adversary, Israel has dithered, led by the extreme right wing settler movement until we now have a situation where the Palestinians kn ow that as time goes by, they grow ever stronger and, eventually, by shear numbers, if Israel keeps the west bank, it becomes an Arab, Palestinian country once again – that or an apartheid state.
    Perhaps the writer would suggest that all the Palestinians be chased out of the West Bank or removed in some other way?

    June 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ali

    The problem is that we've worshipped a false moslem god for so long. The fruit of our false worship is that our nations are far, far behind many others.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • ali

      Problem is that most of the non muslim countries have forsaken God and are influencing Muslims to do the has happened subtly over decades, but is unfortunately happening. It also doesn't help that you post such a racist comment

      June 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jiri Pinkas

      Arab unrest is a direct result from the opening up of the internet to the middle east. Those poor souls have been
      living under dictatorships for so long they thought life was supposed to be like that. These same dictators will fall soon
      enough – Libya today – Syria next then the worst of them all, Iran soon to be flushed down the toilet like a big crap and
      the stink will linger no more.

      June 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jiri Pinkas

      There is no god – it is a figment of your imagination just like the tooth fairy, easter bunny and santa claus. Wake up
      people the earth isn't flat anymore.... Religion is the root of this planets problems – ban them all I say.

      June 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Historian

      “There is no surer sign of decay in a country than to see the rites of religion held in contempt” – Niccolo Machiavelli

      June 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mikel

    why are the men in this picture doing a nazi salute. I heard the arabs were racist, this proves it.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • ali

      hmmmm....your comment sounds racist...

      June 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • KeeKeeDee

      Babe, you've never raised your arm, to cheer, to protest?

      June 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    The ongoing conflict and controversy surrounding the city of Jerusalem is tangible evidence that Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.

    On June 7, 1967 for the first time in 2000 years, Jewish people took control of their holy city of Jerusalem after coming under attack by Arab nations from all sides. This Six Day War in '67 resulted in the reunification of Jerusalem and saw big, tough Israeli paratroopers crying as they entered the Temple Mount and defeated the Jordanian forces trying to hold off the Israeli soldiers. Jordanian soldiers asked the Jews if they were going to build their Temple on the Temple Mount where two previous Jewish temples had stood.

    Ironically, Israeli leaders believed they could acquire peace by appeasing the Muslims and returning control to the Islamic Trust for the Temple Mount. This arrangement has not worked out for 44 years and the situation on the Temple Mount is very explosive and could break into an armed conflict very quickly. In fact, that scenario is what will happen according to the ancient Jewish prophet Zechariah, who said that Jerusalem will become intoxicating to those who are non Jews controlling the Temple Mount and the entire city of Jerusalem, Zechariah 12:2.

    Zechariah also said that the Lord is aggressively possessive for Jerusalem, He is very sorely displeased with those who are arrogantly secure with their control of the Temple Mount and that the Messiah, Jesus Christ will one day come back to Jerusalem to build His Temple on that sacred piece of real estate and to dwell among the Jewish people there forever, Zechariah 1:14-16 and Psalm 132:12-13.

    As the Jews mark Jerusalem Day, they must stop and listen to their own prophets who said that Jerusalem will be the focus of controversy in the last days.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • truth

      Truth is that zionist jews usurped the land in 48 provoking the 6 day "war" and then usurped more land and enslaved and began the ethnic cleansing of the palestinians while continuing to take more land...seems that they learned a lot from hitler

      June 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mycology

      trust is, you have on concept of history or truth,

      and you want to try to present a paragraph as the summation of the history of the region. You are a tool of arab and islamist propagandists, I hope you end up in one of their countries.

      June 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • truth

      Mycology, if arabs and muslims in their countries are like the ones I've met in the startes, theyre great people. Dont be a racist and try to tell the truth

      June 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • ABD

      my holy book is called "Wawa", in this book god says that one day me"ABD" will stick my shoes in the mouth of a guy called Joe, and I am sure this prophecy will come true one day. and the prophecy say's that Joe's sister has slept with three quarters of the teenagers in her town, and this prophecy has been fulfilled.

      June 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Abdallah

      Lol...seems like we can agree on something...the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prophesized that land would be in a state of trials and tribulation until the Day if judgement

      June 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • big dawg

      ABD....i can attest to joes sister and mom, oh and aunt and granny...I'm one of those teenagers!

      June 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. angeleyes

    Thank You Joe. I'm with you.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. texan

    Truth, you speak the truth. God bless

    June 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Notislam

    islam is vile and must be opposed wherever it festers.

    June 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • julie

      wow, you're a real peacenik, u should stop ur racist nazi nonsense and work toward peace and unity not division based on ur hatred

      June 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nil

      Which is all over the world everyday

      2011.06.01 (Shaltalo, Pakistan) – At least eight innocents are killed when Taliban militants blow up two girls' schools and attack a police post.

      2011.05.31 (Pattani, Thailand) – A 48-year-old Buddhist woman is shot to death by Muslim terrorists.

      2011.05.30 (Miranshah, Pakistan) – A young girl dies of injuries suffered from a Religion of Peace bomb blast at a hotel.

      2011.05.30 (Baghdad, Iraq) – Terrorists bomb a minibus, killing at least one passenger.

      2011.05.30 (Yala, Thailand) – Two civilians and five members of a Buddhist monk protection patrol are wounded during a Muslim drive-by.

      2011.05.30 (Bauchi, Nigeria) – Ten people are torn to shreds by an Islamist bomb planted in a bar.

      June 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wingside

    I find it funny and horrible that people fight,steal, and die over fiction. keep it real people. do you see any other organisms on this planet fighting over things they cannot see? Religion was invented by powerful men looking for a way to control the masses. there will be no judgement day, no armagedon, no rapture, no second coming of christ. We live, we die, we turn to dirt, the dirt gets absorbed by plants, we eat the plants, repeat.

    June 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • wilmer

      You sir are correct! I wish everyone would wake and realize that religion is joke. If everyone did this world would be a better place.

      June 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. yitzakh

    Our problem as jews is that we are following false prophets. Check out the group jews for allah

    June 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DR Bob

    It's all been said over and over. Israel has a tiny sliver of land that they are going to keep. The Arabs have stated that they will not be satified until all the jews are driven out into the sea. It ain't going to happen! If thwe arabs were smart they would join with Israeli jews and together enjoy each other. We really are vey much alike and this is a tragedy that has been going on much too long. Israel has cherished education and treated women with dignity. The arabs are, unfortunately, mostly ignorant and treat their women worse than dogs. Also they have now lately been attacking Christians in Iraq and Egypt. Why so much unnecessary hatred?

    June 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • wingside

      because they mistook fiction for non-fiction, a problem alot of people have

      June 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phd

      What kind of a doctor are you? Stick to medicine because your history and perspective is all wrong. The media and you love to portray arabs as wife beaters or worse. The fact of the matter is that arabs treat their wives better than many others. I'm a christian woman married to a muslim arab man and he treats me and our daughters with the greatest respect...treats me much better than my ex jewish husband who used to hit me. And by the way, former israeli pm menachem begem made the comment about forcing a set of people into the sea... She was talking about pushing the palestinians into the sea. I'm not sure why ignorants keep reversing that quote...again stick to medicine and leave history to smarter, less bigoted people

      June 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • KeeKeeDee

      Dr. Rob, surely you know that the Nazi regime largely centered on one group of people depicting another group of people as inferior and deplorable by using the very worst (and incorrect) stereotypes about that group. Is that what you're doing about Palestinians. Careful, I don't know you, but I don't think you want to start down that road.

      June 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe

    Holy Land my ass ! Alla/God doesn't give a damn who lives there. IF it were so the problem would have been resolved long ago

    June 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. J

    Islam is NOT a religion, its a Theocracy; A form of Government based on religious law. Look at how they treat their women, they are property nothing more nothing less. Look at its done Iran, Lebanon, Syria etc. Stop the over population of earth, castrate a Muslim. Sounds like a good bumper sticker

    June 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ur momma would not condone

      J, my son, dont say that! If I was castrated you'd never have ben born and your mom would never have screamed with such carnal pleasure

      June 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. J

    PHd: Arab men treat their women with respect. Wow you must have found the needle in the haystack. You have heard of Honor killings haven't you? This is were a man of the family kills a girl because she may have done some thing inappropriate and shamed the family. Laws are in place to basically turn the cheek when this happens. OH BTW its a MUSLIM ARAB TRADITION. Please have your husband who sounds like a fine man speak out for women's rights. Thanks

    June 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phd

      "honor" killings are not a muslim arab tradition. But I acknowledge that those does happen by a few misguided individuals, but to imply that this is part of the religion is like saying it is part of the christian religion to abuse a child or the jewish religion to cheat people. Be fair and true in your comments please sir

      June 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. J

    Please do everyone on earth a favor and spell check. You meant to say "been born" your jokes would be better if they were intelligible. By the way hows your mom feeling from your dads beat downs?

    June 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J

    PHD: read the following UN report (btw a organization that should be thrown out of OUR country) this is 1999 not 1899

    Saudi Arabia recently announced its intention to issue, for the first time, identification cards for women.(2) Previously, women were registered on their father or husbands' identification cards.

    Also in Saudi Arabia, 24 women showed up at the parliament and insisted on taking part in the discussions. Their appeal was rejected, but, facing international pressure, the Parliament Chairman Sheik Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Jbeir explained that the parliament was not prepared for the presence of women in the building. He added that the parliament has allocated women "special seats including separate entry and exit, which prevent any contact between them and the MPs." Blocked by a wall, the women may watch the sessions, but are invisible to the MPs. These seats allow women's presence in the hall. Nevertheless, the Chairman stated "this does not mean that the council would discuss women's issues. Women will not take part in the discussions. They can only be guests and observers." In addition, Sheik bin Jbeir claimed that "Appointing women as parliament members is out of the question. Nobody even thinks about it, because the issues the parliament deals with are public matters under the responsibility of men."

    June 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • american muslim

      I'm curious as to why people like you only report the negative and never the positive like how muslims in chicago have been contributing the largest meat donations to the chicago food depository year after year or how they have assisted countless persecuted immigrants (non muslim) or how a muslim can driver returned a bag of diamonds that a jeweler left in his car, etc

      June 1, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      @ American Muslim , we must expose the evils of the world to rid them. Not sure if the is gonna be a good analogy but its kinda like when Jesus" spent his days speaking to the ppl that really needed to hear the word of God not to the ppl who were believers already. We need to bring the issues to light and fight against them as to better our society thus the world.

      June 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • TJ Primes

      Until the Jews and Israel supporters deal with the immorality of what Zionism has done to the indigenous people of Palestine, they have ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to critcise another religion or people.

      What the Jews of Israel have done to the people of Palestine is a permanent stain on Judaism and the Jewish people. Permanent. Voting rights for women can be fixed - a permanent stain is something that will echo through history forever.

      June 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
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