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.

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

    PHd it may be great to be a Muslim woman in this country but I doubt you would be prepared to send your daughter to live in the 22 Arab countries. Hypocrite

    June 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phd

      Did you ever hear the story of the jew in jerusalem that would not call for an ambulance for a palestinian suffering a heart attack? He did not help for 2 reasons: 1. It was saturday (ie the sabbath) and 2. The palestinian was a goyim (ie non jew). I seem to recall a biblical story about a good samaritan...unfortunately this type of behavior abounds in the jewish world

      June 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul


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

    Kind of sounds like the Glenn Beck show.
    Maybe you can go back and compare what Glenn predicted and what you are now reporting.
    A 100% track record. Hmmm...
    Where is Fareed now?

    June 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mulatto

    I just wish israel would be fair and act as a true democracy including palestinians. Currently they are a jewish theocracy or the jewish equivalent of iran

    June 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • TJ Primes

      Zionism is racism.

      Zionism is colonialism.

      Zionism is an organized, theocratically motivated plan of deliberate theft of the homeland of another people. In comparison to that, any other civil rights and human rights issues in the region pale to nothing.

      Until the Jews deal with the immorality of what they have done to the Palestinian people, they certainly have absolutely no right to criticise the morality of any other country or religion.

      What Zionism has done to the people of Palestine is a permanent stain on Judaism.

      June 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. _S.T.A.R_

    So many religions, but only "ONE" holds the "TRUTH!" So all should "PRAY" ur in the right "ONE," at the end of time. 4 "GOD" created the heavens & the earth & man & so will he "DESTROY" the wicked upon the earth. 4 it's because of the wicked, that the world will come 2 a end. 4 "GOD" created us all, in many colors & races & "LOVES US ALL!" 4 i believe in all religions it says, 2 love each other & treat each other, as u would want 2 be treated in return, but there is none that say... "DESTROY ONE ANOTHER OVER GREED OF LAND!" 4 GREED is the greatest "EVIL" upon the earth, other than "KILLING SOMEONE." 4 u all should be a "SHAMED," becuz "GOD" created the land u walk upon & blessed each of u, 2 live upon his "EARTH!" U all act as if ur "GODS!" 2 do as u please, but there is only "ONE" that can & it's "GOD HIMSELF!" Funny how many say, they serve "GOD," but show as if, they serve the "DEVIL" himself! Ur all r so wrong & so blind, in what u do 2 one & another & the earth! We were created as humans, not animals!

    June 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. J

    how many jews sit in the government of arab countries? Arabs are part of Israels government. How many jews live in Arab countries? Arabs live in Israel. Check your facts mulatto

    June 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • american muslim

      Do your research on israel and their pluralism or lack there of. Take a look at how much money is spent for jewish activities as compared to what they spend on christians and muslims. The percentages are greatly skewed towards the jews. As mulatto stated, israel is not a democracy but rather a theocracy or whatever suits jewish needs for the day

      June 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • mulatto

      That type of racism and favoritism would be front page news if it happened in the usa

      June 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • TJ Primes

      I have Jewish friends who live in several Muslim countries. In particular I have business associates who are Jews from Iran and have many family members who still live there quite safely.

      I have also met and worked with Jews in Jordan and Lebanon.

      None of this is relevant however in the face of the racist crimes of Zionism which overshadow any other civil rights issues in the area.

      June 1, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. J

    Hey PHd you didn't address my report on womens rights in Arab countries. I wonder why? You are property nothing more and nothing less

    June 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. J

    But at least they allow Arabs to live and vote and raise families, in fact ask any Arab living in Israel if they would rather live in egypt or the Sudan or Saudi Arabia and none of them would leave Israel to live there. Now please tell me how many Jews live in the 22 Arab countries. Theocracy what a joke that you bring that word up. What is Islam?

    June 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • american muslim

      Of course they won't leave. palestinians love their homeland no matter what it is currently called.

      June 1, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • TJ Primes

      How about we ask the Arabs living under illegal Occupation on the West Bank how they feel about their rights.

      Or the people confined in the modern Warsaw Ghetto of Gaza.

      June 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. J

    Most of you American Muslims don't even understand that Arab Muslims look at you as second class people. You do not read the Quran in Arabic and therefore you do not read the true words of the Prophet. The Quran can NOT be Translated into any other language. It must be read in Arabic. Nice tid bit of info, its written in order of importance. The last chapter being the MOST important, it supersedes all others. THE LAST CHAPTER IS ON JIHAD . NICE RELIGION.

    June 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • american muslim

      What are you talking (lying) about? The last chapter is called chapter of the people and in it muslims invite God to provide them refuge from evil.

      June 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • american muslim

      Also arab muslims do not look down upon other muslims and we all read the quran in arabic for our prayers. There is a verse in the quran about people like you: "and when it is said to then ' make not mischief on the earth' they say 'we are only peace makers'. Verily! They are the ones who make mischief but they perceive it not." Please quit spreading mischief and lies. God loves you and will forgive your sins, just be sincerely repentant to Him

      June 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logic

      Uh oh, Pastor Terry Jones is on the blogs again.

      June 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. giant

    Keep fighting over this worthless land. As you fight the sleeping giants of China and India will take everything. Only those two countries combined make up over one third of the Earth's population.

    June 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. J


    LAST CHAPTER : three verses basically saying "When Allah has achieved victory and conquered lots of people and when they are becoming Muslims in great numbers, praise Allah and ask for forgiveness."

    the second to last chapter, called Taubah (which means "Ultimatum"), you will find it says a great deal about non-Muslims. In the traditional chapter order, this is chapter 9. Here are a few choice verses:

    9:5 Slay the idolaters wherever you find them.
    9:6 Those who submit and convert to Islam will be treated well. (Those who don't submit will be killed. See previous verse.)
    9:7-9 Don't make treaties with non-Muslims. They are all evildoers and should not be trusted.
    9:11 Treat converts to Islam well, but kill those who refuse to convert (see 9:5).
    9:12-14 Fight the disbelievers! Allah is on your side; he will give you victory.
    9:23 Don't make friends with your disbelieving family members. Those who do so are wrong-doers.
    9:29 Fight against Christians and Jews "until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low."
    9:33 The "Religion of Truth" (Islam) must prevail, by force if necessary, over all other religions.
    9:41 Fight for Allah with your wealth and whatever weapons are available to you.
    9:42 Those who refuse to fight for Allah (claiming they are unable) are liars who have destroyed their souls.
    9:73 Fight the disbelievers and hypocrites. Be harsh with them. They are all going to hell anyway.
    9:81-83 Those who refuse to give their wealth and lives to Allah will face the fire of hell.
    9:85 Those who refuse to fight for Allah will be treated (along with their children) as unbelievers.
    9:111 Believers must fight for Allah. They must kill and be killed. Allah will reward them for it.
    9:123 Fight disbelievers who are near you, and let them see the harshness in you.

    This is Allah's "last word" on tolerance and peace toward non-Muslims.

    this is your book of love and forgiveness and peace !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • american muslim

      You're still lying out of your behind. The 2nd from last chapter is called chapter of the dawn and in it we ask God for refuge from evil similar to the last chapter. The 3rd from last talks about the oneness of God and that He has no partners, etc. I advise anyone who wants to know what's in the quran to pick one up and read it or go to a reputable website or to a local mosque – we love it when our neighbors come ask us questions about islam so we can be transparent and help dispel the lies and fake chapters and verses that people like j are spreading

      June 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logic

      The begining of chapter 9 is actually about a treaty the Prophet had with some bad folks. Why did you leave out verse 1-4??

      June 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logic

      Seriously, research the chapter before you speak about it.

      June 1, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. J


    June 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. J


    June 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • american muslim

      I will not stoop down to your level of name calling. I seriously doubt that you know any muslims or have ever read the quran. May God guide you and us all

      June 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. J


    ou can see the last chapter is called Nasr. Every chapter has a name. In the traditional order, Nasr is the 110th chapter. But it was really the 114th; the last one "revealed" to Mohammad. He died 80 days later.
    he second to last chapter, called Taubah (which means "Ultimatum"), you will find it says a great deal about non-Muslims. In the traditional chapter order, this is chapter 9. Here are a few choice verses:

    June 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. J

    Bill Warner adds a good wrinkle to discussions about abrogation in the Qur'an. He points out that for many Muslims, abrogation is not absolutely valid or real, because if Allah says something, then it's always true, and if Allah thinks both sides of a contradiction are true, then so be it. Warner says Muslims adhere to the dualistic logic enshrined in the Qur'an. And since both sides of Qur'anic contradictions are accepted by many Muslims as true (for example, the tyrannical jihadist side and the tolerant peaceful side), Warner's path toward clarification of overall Qur'anic intent is to do a simple statistical study of the Qur'an: what percentage of the Qur'an is violent, and what percentage tolerant; and other percentages. In that way one can start to pin down a seemingly contradictory message. For example, we can find out that 95% of "jihad" in the Qur'an is military, and only 5% is peaceful. That is much more useful than hearing from one group that jihad means inner struggle, and from another group that jihad is war, so that one doesn't know what to think.

    June 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J


    June 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5