Arab Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country
Syrian refugees make their way to the Turkish border. The U.N. said 10,000 Syrians have fled into neighboring countries.
June 15th, 2011
10:07 AM ET

Arab 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.


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to huddle with a special Syrian envoy on Wednesday in an effort to help stem the growing tide of refugees racing into Turkey from conflict-wracked Syria. The number of Syrians who have crossed the border now stands at 8,421, according to Turkey's disaster and emergency management directorate.

CNN reporter, briefly in Syria, hears 'horror' stories

That flight has been spurred by violence and a military offensive in the conflict-scarred country, and Turkey is worried that the border crisis could deteriorate and destabilize the region.

Of the refugees, 4,368 are children and 73 Syrians are now being treated in Turkish hospitals, the emergency directorate said. More than 1,230 tents have been set up in a number of locations.

Actress Angelina Jolie, a longtime goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency, has submitted an application to visit the refugees in Turkey, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal confirmed to CNN by phone. He says the government is "evaluating" the request.

GPS: The consequences of Syrian refugees in Turkey

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.

Analysis: Why U.N. won't act against Syria


The trial of three Bahraini opposition journalists accused of fabricating news to disrupt peace during the civil unrest in the Gulf state adjourned after a few minutes Wednesday. Civilian High Court judges postponed proceedings until Sunday after the defense presented documents showing detailed communications between editors of the Al-Wasat newspaper, King Hamad and other top government officials.

Mansoor al-Jamri, former editor-in-chief of the publication, Walid Nouwaihidh, former managing editor and Aqeel Mirza, the former head of the local news department, are on trial after being forced to quit the publication in April. A fourth man, Ali al-Sharifi, is being tried in absentia.

Rights group urges Bahrain to stop military trials

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 in recent years to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption, issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said authorities launched a clampdown on dissent in 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists.


South African President Jacob Zuma lashed out Tuesday at NATO's enforcement of the U.N. resolution authorizing the organization to act to protect innocent civilians threatened by Libya's civil war.

"We strongly believe that the resolution is being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation," Zuma said at a budget vote debate before the National Assembly in Cape Town. "These actions undermine the efforts of the African Union in finding solutions to the problems facing its member states," he said in an appeal that called on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and called further for reform of the U.N. Security Council.

Unlike some other world leaders, Zuma has not called for the longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down. Neither has Zuma's African National Congress party nor the African Union, which Gadhafi once led. The AU also has criticized the NATO airstrikes.

Boehner warns of possible War Powers Resolution violation over Libya
McCain: Obama to make case for Libya mission

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.


A meeting was to be held on Wednesday between Yemeni Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansoor Hadi and members of the country's youth revolutionary movement, officials confirmed.

Hundreds of thousands of anti-regime protesters who want President Ali Abdullah Saleh to depart from office were gathering in front of Hadi's Sanaa residence and are calling on him to accept demands to form a presidential transitional council.

Along with Sanaa, protesters took to the streets on Wednesday in Tazi, Ibb, Hodieda, and Aden. Saleh is in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, where he is recovering from wounds following a June 3 attack on the presidential compound.

GPS: Saudi Arabia's Yemen dilemma
Yemeni VP, opposition meet; Saleh reportedly improving

Roots of Unrest: Protesters have called for the ouster of 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 suffering 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 (132 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    We don't need anything from you but your oil.
    We pay you money for it.
    Worship whomever you like.

    June 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    We don't need any sand.

    June 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. yasin

    "So what about Tunisia, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Bahrain? One by one these nation states are being re-organized. Why? Simply this: In order for these Islamic states to be “united”, or pulled together in an Islamic Federation, their irreligious authoritarian style governments must be broken down. What kind of Federation? Khalifa, of course"

    “New Caliphate”

    June 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • AT345

      So, you think only Islam is the problem here, in my opinion, all religion causes violence and disrupts peace, you think it's so easy to just say "Kill them all, kill all the Muslims in the name of God, all hale God, all hale God", thats all I hear from people like you. What God? Where is God? He isn't here killing the non-believers for you. Wonder why, cause he's not real, the only thing that matters is reality and truth, humans cannot achieve peace and believe in this "God" at the same time. As long as there is religion, there will always be terrorism and corrupt government, but in this situation, Islam or any religion has noting to do with this, right now it is corrupt people who are causing even children to die all because they want power. And here you are blaming Muslims for something they have not done. People like you will always corrupt this planet.

      June 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. yasin

    The Mahdi will come and establish his position and go forth conquering the Earth for Islam, stamping out all other religions. In fact, Isa, the Muslim “Jesus” according to Hadith and Islamic scholars, will return and actually kill the Jews and Christians who refuse to follow the Mahdi. Isa will be, essentially the greatest military general in Islamic history. The Mahdi, upon his appearance, will lead a great army of Muslims on Jerusalem and set up his government from the Temple Mount, which of course used to be the site of the Jewish Temple and is now occupied by two mosque’s: The Al Aqsa Masjid and the more recognized Dome of the Rock."

    the “coming of the Mahdi”

    June 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      That sounds as dumb as the second coming of christ. DO YOU REALIZE HOW DUMB YOU SOUND?

      June 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • FARID

      I'm Egyptian/American and i think you watch too much action movies .if you want others to respect you . you should start respect others too .please stop the crab and say some thing nice . we all child of god don't tell me what to do .
      Peace my friend

      June 15, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat carr

      The "Mahdi" can kiss my royal White Heiney!!!

      June 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • standingwave

      Rant all you want but I won't follow a human or a god by force or threat of death.What kind of life would that be?

      June 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. yasin

    "Make way for the “New Caliphate” that is currently being set up right before our very eyes! If you have been living in the Outback somewhere and haven’t yet learned the term “Caliphate”, just think of it as an Islamic Pope which not only rules the religion but all Islamic politics as well. It is a complete governing system by which the successors of the “Prophet Muhammad” went forth conquering and then ruling in the name of Allah, “The Compassionate, the Merciful”."

    “New Caliphate”

    June 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Casual Observer

      As for the Caliphate – who is going to break the news to Iran and the Saudi Royal family?
      Seems I have read that the Iranians want to start a war to have the 12th Imam show up and do his worldwide Islamic domination thing.
      They have to deal with the Sunni and Shiite thing – good luck with that. What about Pakistan? They don't play nice with other nations and they have nukes and the crazies that will use them. And India and China may have something to say.
      Unifying the Muslims is going to be like bottling smoke

      June 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mojo

    All I know is with the Muslims so busy with all their own crap– they are leaving us infidels alone. Have'nt had a single terrorist issue in weeks. So I dont see the downside personally. Hope it continues.

    June 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • dwaynel

      Agree! Let them kill each other over there and the world will be a better place.

      June 15, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rekha Vinjamuri

    South Africa's Zuma is absolutely right.The UN resolution is being brazenly abused to destroy Libya and assassinate Gaddafi.The hegemony of the West in the UN security council makes the UN a particularly undemocratic organisation with little moral authority to pontificate about other countries.South Africa should lead a movement for quick cessation of the NATO bombing in Libya.

    June 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Phatfreddy1978

    Please these selfish people need to relax cause it's getting harder for me to fill my tank to drive to better places than the crap hole they live in.

    June 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. oldbikerbeatch

    Yep, look at all the peace in Islamic nations. "The peaceful religion," yeah, right... I don't mind that ragheads are killing each other, I just don't want the US involved in ANY of these raghead nations that have caused the economic disasters because of oil costs. The US should not be giving a single penny to ANY nation, anymore – we need to help OUR people first. Let the rest of the world take care of itself.

    June 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • arni

      yes white trash

      June 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tiffany

    Born agains are the biggest farce ever!!!

    June 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kerry

    The one consistent pattern of behavior in the all this unrest in both the Middle-Eastern and North African nations (particularly post revolution) having escaped the attention of the Media in general (CNN included) deliberate or otherwise, and has not been properly analyzed is the subsequent return to blaming Israel, Jews and Zionism (all lumped together) for the internal domestic economic and social problems many (if not most) of these nations face after so many years of dictatorial rule. It has been easy for the power elites of these nations to use the handy Jewish scapegoat (much as Hitler did) as a way to divert public attention from the real issues of concern facing citizens, rampant poverty, government corruption, human rights abuses, high unemployment. The Media should be exposing these kinds of trends, because any foreign aid by the USA or Europeans ought to be linked to metrics that will measure how the new Governments/elites in these developing nations genuinely focus on resolving systemic concerns without resorting to the contemptible fascist propaganda. Unless there is a measurable decrease in this kind of prejudice, the West should take action to restrict or cut off support for nations that will not make needed changes.

    June 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip, and the media, left out the part about foreigners bribing Arab/African leaders to allow easy access to the peoples natural resources. How many times has just halliburton been busted for bribery of African leaders? And isn't it odd that these foreigners home countries struggle with obesity while the nations where they bribe have people who starve or just subsist. Everyone has conveniently forgotten about this aspect, even since the days when people themselves where the sought-after natural resource. (slave trade where tribal leaders sold their own people into slavery)

    June 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kerry Berger

      And your point is???

      June 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. K c

    Maybe now is the time for these arab countries that ask for our help to pay us for it. We have never seen a cent from either of them for our deaths and costs associated with saving them. Other than that, I dont care what they do to each other. I still remember our young men and women jumping from the trade towers and muslims sawing the heads off of our young soldiers.

    June 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • arni

      ignorant mofo

      June 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    ...not to mention the part(s) about installing puppet regimes. (when a leader rejects bribes from foreigners, oftentimes those foreigners sponsor a leadership change and install a puppet leader who values money more than his country(men).

    June 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nemo

    Carpet bomb em all!

    June 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
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