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.

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.

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.

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. TJ Primes

    What we see constantly in forums like this is the intense and vicious racism of supporters of Israel's Occupation - both Jews and non-Jews, hiding behind the cowardly anonymity of the internet speak vicious racism that is based on one central idea — that Jews are a superior race and thus have every right in the world to take a homeland away from an "inferior" race.

    It's disgusting and sleazy.

    June 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      honestly are trying to be funny is this satire ? it is a sick joke that much of the muslim world in united in their belief that all their problems are because of tiny israel... israel and jews are is superior to islamic countries and muslims not because of race but because they are not repressed in perverted stone age dogma and conformist supremacist totalitarian ideology like islam – jews do & have contributed much to civilization science and art on and on. while islam is synonymous with censorship and although tries to take credit for the accomplishments of pre islamic societies islam kills culture makes stagnate and unstable volatile mobs and frightened ignorant volatile lemmings out of populations – the pathetic state of the muslim world is the fault of muslims them self's. islam desperately needs criticism and dissent and you are going to get

      June 1, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. angel tears

    Its zionism at its best/worst.

    June 1, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KeeKeeDee

    That's a "country by country" breakdown? Sorry, when I opened this I expected to read an overview of what's happenign in all/most arab countries. And, uh, got four. Wow, CNN, don't strain yourself.

    June 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. heno

    this is not a revolution, but people are hungry and our nation is out of bribe money. please, I ask you to put aside all your differences and look at the bigger picture.
    who is providing arms to Lybian army?
    how is Lybian army able to withstand NATO's attacks?
    we keep hearing Ghadafi advancing then opposition advancing? exactly how many sq miles land are talking about?
    this sounds soooooo familiar.
    Don't be fooled.
    Please get beck with your thoughts......

    June 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. J

    ZIONISM BLAH BLAH BLAH, IM NOT EVEN JEWISH HAHAHAHAHAHA. IM NOT RELIGIOUS AT ALL. IM JUST AMAZED AT ALL THE PEOPLE THAT CALL ISLAM A PEACEFUL LOVING FORGIVING RELIGION. WHAT A JOKE. I BET THE BEAUTIFUL BUDDHA STATUES IN THE EAST THAT HAVE BEEN DESTROYED BY MUSLIMS DON'T FEEL SO SAFE OR LOVED. THIS IS A COMPLETE SNOW JOB. START BY CALLING OUT YOUR MUSLIM IMAMS AND THEN WE CAN HAVE A REAL DISCUSSION

    June 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • angel tears

      Zionism was started by aristocratic, atheist jews who needed a vacation home and is currently supported by christian ziomists that believe christ won't return unless the jews get "their promised land"..this movement has made judaism look hypocritical. All the muslims I know are peace loving, wonderful people. Dont be a hater, you sound like a little kid living in his moms basement with your antics

      June 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Go F yerself

      What exactly is an atheist Jew? That makes no sense angel tears, much like the rest of the garbage coming from your keyboard.

      June 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Othman Naciri

      Dear J,

      The religion of Islam should not be blamed. If you take time to read The Koran and the Hadith: the prophet`s sayings and teachings book, you will realize how Islam is a religion of peace and justice. It is the people that misconstrue the religions and politics. Man has always shed blood evr since Cain and Abel Adam`s two sons, it`s man`s twisted human nature. It has nothing to do with religion. Let`s not judge.

      June 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • angel tears

      Go f yerself, that wasn't very nice. A jew can be a jew by ethnicity not only by religion. You should do your research before spewing hate.

      June 1, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Liza

    please check out http://www.islamicsolutions.com/speak-out/

    June 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Liza... if you want to proselytize for converts to Islam... at least be up front about it. Don't come up from behind – it's like a Jehovah Witness or Mormon knocking on my door.

      June 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • j

      KEITH AT LEAST A MORMON OR A JEHOVAH WITNESS WONT STRAP A BOMB TO THEIR CHEST BECAUSE YOU DON'T CONVERT

      June 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. j

    TJ : if you are such a great man please give your home and land back to the Native Americans because the White Man felt superior and took it. RACIST

    June 1, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. j

    ANGEL: PLEASE MOVE TO ONE OF THE 22 ARAB COUNTRIES AND LIVE THERE. YOU ARE NOTHING BUT PROPERTY. WOW MAYBE THE MUSLIMS HAVE SOMETHING RIGHT

    June 1, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • angel tears

      I can't believe you called me property. You obviously dont know I'm a black woman or you'd never say that I'm sure. Go back to mommy's basement and play with your pokemon cards little boy

      June 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. j

    PLEASE GIVE ME ONE EXAMPLE OF AN ARAB MUSLIM COUNTRY THAT PRACTICES DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FREEDOM OF RELIGION ETC

    June 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • heno

      you are J and a muslim person could be called Ali. you are happy with your freedoms and thoughts and Ali in turn is happy with freedoms he has (what ever they may be) but he is happy with what ever they may be. so the notion of comparing what you think are freedoms for Ali and in what COST TO YOU they are is a mood point. change your ways.......

      June 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • a slozomby

      @heno apparently they arent happy or they wouldnt be having protests and revolts across the middle east.

      June 1, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. j

    ANGEL THE ONE THING YOU CAN SAY ABOUT THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK IS THAT NO MATTER HOW THEY ARE TREATED THEY ALWAYS COME OUT ON TOP. DR, LAWYERS, THINKERS, ARTISTS AND SO ONE. ITS A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF ACHIEVEMENTS FOR SUCH A FEW PEOPLE.

    June 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. j

    DO YOU KNOW THAT THE LARGEST SLAVE TRADERS OF ALL TIME WERE THE ARABS OF NORTHERN AFRICA. IN FACT BLACK MUSLIMS LIKE THE ONES IN SUDAN ARE STILL TREATED THE SAME WAY THE WERE 200 YEARS AGO. THE PROPERTY QUOTE WAS BECAUSE YOUR A WOMEN, YOU CAN PLAY THE RACE CARD BUT I ALSO VOTED FOR OBAMA BECAUSE I WANTED CHANGE AND TO PROVE THAT WE ARE NOT A RACIST NATION, NEXT TIME ILL VOTE FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO PROVE THAT IM NOT AN IDIOT
    AS FAR AS MY MOMMIES BASEMENT IS CONCERNED YOU CAN GET OF WORK ( IF YOU HAVE A JOB )AND CLEAN IT, IT NEEDS A GOOD DUSTING

    June 1, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • axel

      I agree with jj this j guy is a piece of work. I've been around the world and unfortunately there are a lot of pr!ck-less guys like this one who dont know sh!t from shinola

      June 1, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jj

    J u r a d0uche! Aren't u

    June 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pastor Carlton Evans

    The King of Kings and Lord of Lords' eternal Kingdom is being made fully manifest throughout the entire earth. This is what's happening, and whoever and whatever is not of His Kingdom is being shaken and then removed!!! Jesus Christ is establishing his justice and righteousness which rules and reigns forever!!!

    June 1, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • heno

      Good evening Pastor, thank you for your kind and soothing words, but god has nothing to do with this. people, govenrments and large corp's are behind this.

      June 1, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. j

    Axel, I to have been around the world and I speak 4 languages. I have lived with other cultures and as an American I am always embarased of idiots like you. Just by visiting a country and sheding some tears over injustices doesn't make you all knowing it just makes you NAIVE

    June 1, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. j

    jj please kiss my Ass. sticks and stones will brake my bones but Islam will kill me

    June 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • jj

      U mean break dont you? U really r dumb as a d0uche...lol

      June 1, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
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