June 14th, 2011
10:01 AM ET

Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, 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 Abidine Ben Ali. In many cases, these demonstrations and movements have been met with brute force and escalated into seemingly unending violence.

Here are the latest developments from each country and information on the roots of the unrest.

LIBYA

NATO refused to say Tuesday whether or not it would bomb ancient Roman ruins in Libya if it knew Moammar Gadhafi was hiding military equipment there. The alliance recently extended its mission - officially to protect civilians in Libya from Gadhafi's efforts to crush an uprising that has left rebels in control of parts of the country - for another 90 days, into September.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Germany formally recognizes the rebel Transitional National Council as the representative of the Libyan people, putting Berlin in line with the United States, France, Italy and a handful of other countries. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed for diplomatic support for the rebels at a meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The UAE has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate Libyan government.

After a siege of nearly two months, rebels have freed the city of Al-Rayyana, northeast of Zintan, said rebel fighter Talha Al-Jiwali. Nine rebels were killed, and 35 were wounded.

What should NATO bomb first, soldiers or Gadhafi himself?

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.

SYRIA

The northwestern Syrian city of Jisr al-Shugur has been a focal point in the conflict, with reports of fighting, deaths - and competing narratives about what has happened. The Syrian military controlled Jisr al-Shugur after entering the city over the weekend, a network of human rights activists said Monday. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria said Syrian soldiers were going house-to-house conducting searches.

Syrian refugees who have fled to Turkey said some Syrian soldiers rebelled after being ordered to fire on unarmed protesters and instead started fighting among themselves.

As of Monday, 6,817 Syrian refugees had crossed into Turkey, said Metin Corabatir of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees office in Ankara.

After more than a thousand reported deaths from a government crackdown on dissidents and chilling videos of violence on social media, the unrest in Syria has drawn international attention - albeit no response from the United Nations Security Council.

Roots of Unrest: More than 1,100 people may have died since the unrest began in mid-March after teens were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti in Daraa, according to Amnesty International. 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

Yemen's vice president met with opposition parties Monday in Sanaa, as the nation's state news agency said President Ali Abdullah Saleh's health is improving. The meeting between Vice President Abdu Rabo Mansour Hadi and the opposition was the first of its kind since Hadi became acting president. Saleh and other senior officials were injured June 3 in an attack on the mosque at the presidential palace and are being treated in Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed Qahtan, spokesman for the Joint Meeting Parties, Yemen's largest opposition bloc, said Monday that the meeting between Hadi and the opposition was fruitful. A number of meetings are needed to ensure Saleh's power transfer, he said, and those will take place over the next couple of weeks.

Hadi was cooperative, opposition officials said, and was willing to reach an agreement. Hasan Zaid with the opposition Haq Party, who was among those meeting with Hadi, said that "when the opposition discussed the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) proposal, the VP seemed insistent that it is the only solution that can transfer power in Yemen peacefully and safely."

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.

TUNISIA

Former Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali will be tried in absentia next week, the country's interim prime minister said Tuesday. Ben Ali's trial will start on Monday, interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi told Al Jazeera television.

The former strongman's political party has since been dissolved by a court order. Parliamentary elections have been scheduled for July. At least 300 people were killed and 700 injured during the Tunisian uprising, a top U.N. human rights expert said last month.

Earlier this month, Ben Ali said he has been unfairly portrayed and discredited by political opponents seeking to make a break with their country's past. Ben Ali said that recent searches conducted of his official and personal offices were "merely stage dressing" meant to discredit him.

Roots of Unrest: Protests against Ben Ali - who had ruled Tunisia since 1987 - began to erupt late last year. Fed up with corruption, unemployment and escalating prices of food, people began demonstrating en masse after the self-immolation suicide of a fruit cart vendor in December. Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia earlier this year after a revolt led to his ouster and triggered a wave of protests against longtime rulers across North Africa and the Middle East.

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Filed under: Arab unrest: developments • Libya • Syria • Tunisia • Yemen
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Not jesus

    @mkakeh... If Jesus was the Messiah there would be no crimes, priests would not molest children "genius". Jesus was an ordinary man, the same way you love Jesus is the same way you love child molesters(catholic church and the pope). That is the symbol of the cross(priests and fathers molesting kids) genius. Shame on you and your religion

    June 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      That argument is based on your idea of fairness but fails to even look at the bibles own requirements to pass logically, and so fails. Original sin, its as simple as that. No one is born good, save one.

      anyway, the other argument I get so tired of hearing is free will, if there was a cosmic dictator you'd complain about not having the chance to do anything, get passed high school philosophy and learn the material you are debating

      June 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • mkakeh

      @ Not Jesus: Whoever said I was Christian? I am most definitely not a Christian. I abhor the actions of the Catholic Church and also disagree with a celibate lifestyle because humans have instinctual needs that if repressed manifest in unnatural ways. I agree, shame on the Catholic church.

      Whoever said Jesus being the Messiah would stop crime? Him being the Messiah means that he comes as a blessing and warning to all of mankind as a sign of the end of times (and no I don't believe May 21st was judgement day, no one knows when that will come so people should stop guessing). Jesus being the Messiah has nothing to do with people being criminals, human beings can do whatever they want. Just because you hear the truth doesn't mean you have to listen to it or agree with it, I'm pretty sure HUman experience has proven that we can do whatever the hell we want whenever we feel like it. I don't believe the Bible contains the word of Jesus and God and therefore can not be followed to the letter (it is a much edited book written in bits and pieces across the span of a few hundred years and started several hundred years after Jesus' death. There was a book in the Bible that was taken out during the Council of Nicea (when Christian decided by a vote that Jesus was a part of the Trinity and not just a Prophet) the book of Barnabus that said there would be another messenger from God that comes after Jesus. Also, science has disproved the Bible as God's divine word with the opening lines of Genesis, (paraphrasing) "first there was water, then there was light, then there was land" Science shows us that the Sun formed first (light), then the Earth cooled from a cloud of cosmic dust (land), then a combination of global cooling, comets, meteorites, etc. brought water (we don't know exaclty how water came to the Earth we just know the Earth didn't always have it in its early history). You completely took my comments the wrong way pal.

      June 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Not jesus

    Till when are you ignorant people going to desecrate the name of God saying He has a son? You have to be very stupid to believe that.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tony Gerards ( the other side of things )

    When are u stupid people going to wake up and realize the secret governments of the world have had this all planned for the last decade as a way to bring the middle east into subjection into the one world government which is the last frontier to b conquered by the U.S. And the new world order- in order to bring the whole globe under their control so as to enslave us ALL ...... "but oh yea u people have already done your homework and you already KNOW IT ALL" but if u already know it all "how come they do all this s**t right in front of your faces and none of u really know whats going on on the world scene "thats why they (n.w.o.) call all of you a bunch of DUNDERHEADS" U DUNDER HEADS !!!

    June 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dunderhead

      Please remove the tinfoil hat...it's my turn to play with it!!

      June 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • pboat

      C'mon Tony, be a good boy, time to get back on your meds now.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. earthquake

    Go to youtube username israel5535 and click on "THE HOSTS OF HEAVEN." images are real in the video. UFOs or hosts of heaven. You decide.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. James

    No time for religion. As long as man is around, there will be war...

    June 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jj

    TESTING...rackoon

    June 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Emelia Kanson

    Bomb an ancient Roman site? Potentially destroy possible future archaeological finds? UNWTO and UNESCO are gonna throw a fit, and I'll be right there protesting with them. Once those kinds of places are gone, they're gone. Has anyone thought to rebuild any of the amazing sites from those times? No. Even if we could, they wouldn't be timeless, they would always have some modernized something-or-other. Send in ninjas with flamethrowers for all I care, but don't bomb it.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Okie

    The US does not have enough troops for all the hot spots and soon to be hot spots. Why should Syria have democracy and not Saudia Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rob

    religion is for suckers.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • MeIAm

      Atheism is for arrogant, and ego-driven, suckers.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Okie

    Our so-call Arab allies will side with any one who is against Israel.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. EVEREAITHFUL

    Revelation,9. Fifth trumpet has sounded. Locusts are swarming. Locust in hebrew is spelled abarh. Brothers and Sisters who have eyes 2 see and ears 2 hear. Our Father put a H on the name of Abraham and Sarah 2 make it Holy, remove the h on the word abarh, abar. Rev.7 and on their heads were crowns, and the faces of men, because they are men. Look up the oldest meaning 4 the word crown. Tic ,tic,tic, the destorier is on the way. Fight the good Fight. OOH*RAH. P.S. There is no damm. Rapture. There is just the Love of our Father. In the name of my Savior JESUS

    June 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUFFNUTT

      Those "locusts" in the Book of Revelations that St. John was refering to are actually our modern day aircraft. How horrified John must have been upon seeing a vision of those horrific U.S. and NATO planes flying over the Middle East spewing unimaginable death and destruction and slaughtering a gigantic amount of people mercilessly!!!

      June 14, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Okie

    Our stable Arab allies should set the example in switching in democracy. They will desert the US and side with anyone who is against Israel.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Not Jesus

    @mikakeh... Thanks for your comment, Genesis is written that way so humans can understand it, I asked a sage and he said that everything was made at the same time.

    June 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gord Coulson

    You're missing Bahrain (just happens to have a US naval base there).

    June 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. COUNTRYCOOK

    Friends

    Our friends over at Kitman TV posted this French report in which some Muslim thugs attack a cameraman fracturing his jaw in several places with a rock. The journalists were acting lawfully by filming on the public street. Muslims in France feel they can intimidate non-believers because of the political correctness and fear they have instilled. This is what will happen in the USA if we do not stand up with the correct rhetoric from our leaders now. In fact this is already happening in California and Michigan with proven media reports and will be more widespread unless We The People speak louder and put the pressure on our elected officials on a local , state and federal level. In every town in a America we need two or three individuals who will kick up a stink and expose the evil of Islamic fundamentalism and its threat to our freedom and way of life. Prepare for the battle of truth! If you really want to make a stink help organize a speaking event in your town. The threat is
    here and
    it is now, when you are ready email us at walid@shoebat.com

    June 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
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