Latest developments: Middle East and North Africa unrest
Yemeni anti-government demonstrators call for the ousting of President Ali Abdullah Saleh during protests on Thursday.
June 2nd, 2011
01:07 PM ET

Latest developments: Middle East and North Africa unrest

[Updated at 1:07 p.m.] 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.

Here's a look at what's next for the 'Arab Spring' and look at the latest developments from each country and information on the roots of unrest.


After state-of-emergency laws that had allowed for a crackdown on opposition leaders and journalists were lifted Wednesday it was thought to be an effort to signal an end to months of civil unrest.

As the state of emergency was lifted, protesters gathered across Bahrain, in locations including Aldiraz, Daih, Bani Jamrah, Karzakan, Abo Qowa, Duraz and Sitra, according to Nabeel Rajab, a prominent Bahraini human rights activist.

Rajab said peaceful protesters were attacked by security forces with tear gas and rubber bullets, causing injuries but no deaths. The demonstrations were dispersed soon after they started, he said.

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.


One person was killed and three others injured Thursday, according to medical sources at a makeshift clinic on the front lines of Dafniya, west of the city of Misrata.

State TV reported explosions in Benghazi, saying one of them happened in the Ard Ezwawa region.

On Wednesday, NATO decided to extend its mission in Libya by 90 days, continuing a campaign that began in March. Libya's oil minister also confirmed Wednesday that he's defected and said he's considering signing up with the opposition movement.

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.

GPS: Can Libya's stalemate be broken?

GPS: 5 options for the U.S. in Libya

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.


President Bashar al-Assad has announced a decision to form an ad hoc committee to facilitate a national dialogue, a state-run news agency reported Thursday.

Dozens of people have died in clashes with troops in western Syria, where government forces reportedly shelled homes in one town, protest organizers and a human rights official said Thursday.

The reports come a day after a leading human rights group accused Syria of committing abuses against anti-government protesters, who have been calling for a regime change. Syria has denied the allegations.

At least 43 people have died in clashes when government forces entered Homs province to end protests against government rule, said Rami Abdel Rahman, president of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that al-Assad "has not called for an end to the violence against his own people, he's not engaged seriously in any kind of reform efforts, and the United States has taken a number of steps to try to put pressure on President Assad's regime."

Hundreds of activists at a meeting in Turkey titled "Conference for Change in Syria" issued a declaration on Thursday after several days of talks calling on President Bashar al Assad to step down and hand power to his vice president, with the goal of then organizing democratic elections.

The opposition gathering also declared its support for the "Revolution in Syria," and elected a 31-member council aimed at assisting the protest movement in Syria.

On Tuesday, the Syrian government announced 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.

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

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.


A group of about 1,000 armed tribesmen were seen by residents entering the capital of Yemen early Thursday saying they are supporting Sheikh Sadeq Al-Ahmar, a leader of a tribe that has been in street battles with government forces recently.

A breaking news banner on Yemen state television proclaimed that government forces had beat back tribesman loyal to Al-Ahmar from areas of the capital near the Ministry of Tourism building.

A security official at Sanaa International Airport said inbound and outbound flights have been halted due because of security concerns over clashes near the airport. But the official, who is not authorized to speak to the media, said that the airport itself is not closed.

Sanaa residents reported hearing explosions near the presidential palace, a government source said.

Meanwhile, eleven tribesman were killed in clashes overnight and early Thursday, an official with the tribe said.

Abdu Ganadi, a government spokesman, said six civilians were killed in the past day.

On Wednesday, four missiles struck a compound where generals who defected from the Yemeni regime , a spokesman for the defected generals said. 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 President Saleh's forces. A government spokesman denied the report to Al Jazeera. A senior defense ministry official who did not want to be named for security reasons also denied the claim to CNN.

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.

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. CSnSC

    Well, at least Elis isnt as tedious as the c anthony troll

    June 2, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jinx

    How true. But not by much.

    June 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cesar

    I wonder if Kim Kardashian's new fiance can smell bush even though she's shaved?

    June 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. i8jomomma

    when will it spread to america?.......that's right we like to be told how we should live our lives..........we also like the jumping beans hopping across the border to steal our jobs...and get an education on the backs of taxpayers

    June 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. farod

    CNN is another Fox News how they lie all out in the open. none of this stuff is true how about they play unedited videos about whats going on in libya and in the middle east. I hope this station gets shut down for the lies they release to the public.

    June 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. andy_txn

    Hey!! Libya is collapsing!! Tripoli citizens control the streets!!! Brega is surrendering!!! Gaddafi troops on the run!!! Hurray Hurray!!! hurray!!!

    June 2, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. andy_txn

    Where is CNN !!! Don't get caught with your pants down!! BIG news from Libya!! RIOTS in TRIPOLI!!!

    June 2, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar

    Sooner or later, the people will prevail.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Dipprasad Pun

      I tend to agree with you.Cesar. But what do I know? I'm just a drunken Gurkha from Nepal. I'm still a bit tanked,so excuse the misspelling. Like you say,the people will prevail but I wish I knew where!

      June 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |

    I agree, for CNN to post that top photo of unrest in the streets was a bad decision for the photo is obviously staged, the looks on all the faces different, some even smiling, i was shocked and appalled by CNNs decision to post such a fake and staged picture of unrest, shame on you

    June 4, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. forreal89

    what a bunch of insane idiots

    June 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. The Right Left

    Israel is conveniently, overlooked in this report and so many others. These movements are crashing at its shores. How long can Israel deny the Pelstinians their rightful land and retun of refugees is a matter of time, years not decades. The desert storms are crossing over. They will get stronger.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gerry

    The Right Left, I would beg to differ. I don't see years or decades left in the survival of Israel and the occupation of Palestine. Likely it won't be even day's. The crap with Israel starts to go down on July 6th, 2011 when they issue their Third Intifada. Muslims from nations across the middle east will march on Israel's borders and demand what was taken from them. Syria is already doing dry runs and it's surely going to happen.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. Coach Lew

    All of the uprisings in the Mid East is good. Just don't let us fall in to the trap that they will always be doing good. The present regimes in all Mid-East countries are corrupt and want nothing but to bring the United States and it's allies down. So be careful of wolves in sheeps clothing.

    June 12, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
1 2