Arab Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country
Syrian refugees in a camp on the Turkish border protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday.
June 16th, 2011
01:28 PM ET

Arab Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country

[Updated 1:28 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 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.


The number of Syrian refugees now in Turkey stands at 8,904, Turkish emergency officials said on Thursday.

This increase comes as Turkish government officials, such as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, met with a special Syrian envoy to help stem the growing tide of refugees.

The U.N. human rights office called for "a thorough probe into the allegations of widespread abuses committed by Syrian authorities during their violent crackdown."

A preliminary report prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that as of mid-June, the number of those killed during such incidents is believed to have exceeded 1,100 persons, many of them unarmed civilians; among them were women and children." That's over a period of three months.

The OHCHR said reports indicate than up to 10,000 people have been detained over three months, and it has received information that security forces "have perpetrated acts of torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment against detainees, resulting in death in custody in some cases."

Syrian civilian: Why is our president killing us?

The report, which covers the period from March 15 to Wednesday, is based on data from U.N. agencies. human rights activists, a small number of victims and witnesses, and various groups. The OHCHR said it had to rely on these sources because it hasn't been able to get staffers "on the ground in Syria."

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.

Opinion: What could shake Syria's regime?


Elections watched by international observers could take place in Libya within three months, one of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's sons says in a published interview.

The European Union, the African Union, the United Nations or NATO could be present to ensure transparency, Saif Gadhafi told the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

He said the vote would be carried out "at the most at the end of the year."

Several explosions rattled Tripoli Thursday morning as Libyan state television reported bombardments in Sirte, east of Tripoli, and other areas.

Rebel forces said they have made progress in recent days in the fight against Gadhafi's forces. They've taken control of the mountainous Jebel Nafusa region southwest of Tripoli, said Ahmed Bani, an officer with the rebel forces. Rebels have also made gains in the western city of Zlitan, Bani said.

How will the Libya conflict play out?

U.S. lawmakers filed a suit Wednesday that challenges the nation's participation in the Libya mission, accusing President Barack Obama of failing to consult with Congress over the military effort in the North African country.

Capuano: U.S. action in Libya illegal

The White House denied that accusation, saying Obama has not violated the War Powers Resolution by intervening militarily for more than 60 days without seeking approval from Congress.

What does the Libya lawsuit mean?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Thursday that she believes Obama had the authority to engage U.S. forces in the 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.


Security forces battled armed Islamic militants in one town and reports surfaced of arrests and deaths in two other cities.

Fighting erupted for six hours in the Lahj province capital of Hawta on Wednesday when armed Islamic militants attacked government compounds, according to a security official - who asked not to be named because he's not authorized to speak to the media.

Three people died and at least 12 people were wounded in the Wednesday clashes, the official said. The fierce fighting between security personnel and insurgents resumed on Thursday, witnesses said.

Yemeni state TV also reported unrest in the southern towns of Zinjibar and Aden. It said al Qaeda militants in Zinjibar killed two residents and injured another in a mortar attack, and it reported the arrests of 10 al Qaeda members and five other people for firing at civilians and ransacking stores in Aden's Mansoura area.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton classified al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operative Othman al-Ghamdi as a "specially designated global terrorist" under an executive order that "targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism."

A senior administration official told CNN that Ghamdi was released from the Guantanamo detention facility in 2006 and had been one of well over 100 detainees the Bush administration sent to Saudi Arabia.

Al-Ghamdi "has been involved in raising funds for the organization's operations and activities in Yemen" and has "worked with other AQAP members to plan and stockpile weapons for future attacks," the State Department said in a news release.

He appeared in a video alongside Fahd al-Quso, an AQAP operative wanted for his role in the USS Cole bombing in October 2000, the department said.

GPS: Saudi Arabia's Yemen dilemma

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 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 (78 Responses)
  1. Steve

    Thats why I don't like you, CNN. Only you would be so pretentious to assume what I 'need' to know about 'Arab Unrest'. Get off your high horse, before you get knocked on your A**.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • wookie

      Yeah forsure we need to leave that area alone alreadxy they can deal with there own issues,when there in america u can say "I need to know"

      June 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • neoritter

      Wow really, that's what you're comlaining about? If they didn't put stuff like this, I'd bet you'd be complaining (if you already aren't) that they're not paying enough attention this but instead the Weiner scandal. Get real. This is real news, not stupid scandals and BS. I'd take this anyday of the week.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed Sr

      Can CNN find something else to do besides just being BORING?....................the Arabs have been restless since they were born..........who in hell really cares?

      June 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason K

      @ Steve

      But that's their job. Don't you know that the media is not supposed to report the news anymore. Their job is to take the news, and hire "experts" who tell you how you're supposed to feel about it. Americans are now incapable of reading an impartial story and developing their opinion. If they did that, they'd be less likely to be lead around by their leashes and do as they are told by the powers that be. We can't have that!

      June 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Spot

    The two previous comments illustrate why it's better to get rid of comments sections.

    Most of the people in the US have no idea what's going on in the middle east, and only a slight percentage of that even care.

    Why on earth, "Steve" would you bother reading this article if you know so much?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • oneLonelyVoice

      You fail to factor in the entertainment value of the comments. But, beyond that, I'd have to agree.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • wookie

      He was making a comment retard,you know the point of this section,or do u not smart enough to understand that?

      June 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • u2stupid

      The irony in wookie's reply is hilarious.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed Sr

      I am going to buy a bottle of SPOT remover................................

      June 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Soviet1963

    To Spot. Where is you freedom of speech, buddy? Steve route it to make sure others who is still reading that garbage, could read his comment as well and start thinking. I am following almost all Nic Robertson commentaries on Libya, and I could not find more biased opinion then his on events, he purposefully misleading his viewers, if not more.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aces

    Arab Spring = Muslim Califate

    June 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Amavet2

    Why does CNN think we here in the United States need to give any credence to whats occurring in the Middle East???? Those people who are so concerned should by all means hop on the next plane to the Middle East and join the fray up close and personal!!! Those people are animals, and have lived like animals for thousands of years!!! Its a bitter pill to swallow, but take your medicine!!! We here in the U.S. have our own list of problems and troubles that need to be solved!!!

    June 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Roger

    Along with another thought-provoking opinion article this morning; "Cain's message - Muslims need not apply," we are being presented with real issues going on in the real world. But instead of learning (we all have more to learn before the lights go out), we spend our time and bandwidth taking cheap shots at one another, posting offensive, lame and juvenile jokes, and being petty. However, I think the comments sections serve a purpose: There is obviously a lot of frustration that gets safely vented this way. And maybe someday we'll grow up and face reality.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. InformedStudent

    As Americans we tend to be uninformed about what is going on in the rest of the world. It's great that CNN and other news websites publish articles like this because even if you aren't following stories closely, you can get caught up easily. You don't have to care about what is going on, but you should at least know. We live in such an interdependent world that everything going on affects us, whether you realize it or not. I'm not suggesting we solve everyone's problems but is it so wrong to be a little empathetic to what is going on? I think as humans it is 100% normal to think about ourselves mostly, but as a species we lose our humanity each time we disregard the awful things going on across the world simply because it doesn't have a personal or direct impact on us.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mqhayett

    NO One lives in isolation anymore.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MadMo

    Tell me when Arab/Muslim are NOT UNREST!
    Check them out in

    June 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |

    What gets me here is that while everbody seems to be whining about Bashir al Assad of Syria, Barack Obama is now fighting in Yemen for the preservation of the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh a dictator who is at least ten times worse than Assad. He's now sending in those godless drones trying to kill off the opposition to Saleh's dictatorship in Yemen and that's disgusting!

    June 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. david rivera

    not even one comment coming from muslism here? go figure!

    June 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jazzzzzzzz

    Good post RuffNutt,thank you.

    June 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. davegeorgia

    How is muslim unrest a surprise, it is the norm, it is the religion of criminals and terrorists. with a false allah moon, a false muhammed prophet, a false koran book, they are a deceived disillusioned disappointed culture of abusive barbaric means, hateful murderous oppressive and terroristic, it is no surprise, it is the culture of suicide that comes to end their pain, BTK burn the koran now!

    June 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shelnutt

      Can I burn the Bible then, cause it's really boring? Maybe I'll just continually edit it until it says what I want it to...oh wait that's how these books have gotten to this point...word of god? Hardly.

      June 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • davegeorgia

      Shelnutt, I haven't seen any Christians murdering and rioting over bibles being burned, and muslims burn bibles by the thousands, I haven't seen any Christians reacting violently to any of their own being persecuted to the point of death, and muslims persecute and kill Christians by the thousands, islam is an intolerant culture and you can not refute those facts. The very fact that you are an atheist in a Christian country is evidence that Christianity is tolerant, if you will read the Bible and try to disprove it you will find that truth that you seek

      June 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. NorCalMojo

    The root of the unrest is in the culture of the region. This is only a changing of the guard. In 10 years, they'll be burning US and Israeli flags again. Meanwhile, the new faction will still be embezzling all the money pouring in from the West to buy real estate in London and New York.

    As long as they continue blaming the West for the crimes of their political and religious leaders, they'll be barking at the moon.

    June 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cathy

    I do want to know about Middle East unrest Steve. The price of gas was going up because of Gaddafy.

    June 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |

      That wouldn't be the case Cathy, if the U.S.,Great Britain and France would only butt out of Libya's civil war and let the Qadaffy forces prevail there. 90% of all the trouble in the the Middle East stems from the policies of these three countries who through their own greed want Libya's oil.

      June 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo


      If two of the countries you're referring to are Kuwait and Saudi, you're onto something. I seriously doubt that's the case. It sounds like you're parroting the anti-western rhetoric that the corrupt Arab politicians and mullahs use to stay in deflect the popular anger to innocent Americans and Israelis.

      If we let Gadhafi alone, you'd be saying we were propping him up. The US would LOVE to be able to do business with stable democratic nations in the Middle East. Arab leaders request intervention and then blame their own corruption on the US.

      Buying a product they're selling is not a crime. As for their economy, if you continually vilify your best customers, you're probably not going to do very well.

      June 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      So u want to let a tyrant prevail @ruffnut. I thoguht the west was about promoting democrac, not despotism. Your line of thought is closer to nazism than democracy.

      June 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rabble..

      @Cathy: Respectfully you're wrong about crude prices affecting the sudden rise in gas prices. OPEC has just announced recently that they will be cutting production.. Seems like they would want to increase production in the stable countries to make up for any lost production in the unstable countries. Also the price of E-85 ethanol fuel is almost what gasoline costs, while there is no threat to corn to produce ethanol. The energy companies are selling us lies and propaganda in order to keep the price at the pumps high. To maximize profits a company needs to do as little work and make the most money. Drilling more costs money, so they are drilling less while claiming there is a crisis. It's astounding to hear the same talking points repeated and people none the wiser. Your politicians like things like this, because they all own stocks in these energy companies. Business is good. Don't let them fool you.

      June 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ishouldnobetter

      Ron-> I believe the people of Lybia, Syria, Yemen, etc. should be left to their own devices. The US or any other outside power interfering in a national revolution is violating the sovereignty of the nation they arre attacking whether directly as in Lybia with NATO (read as USA) military intervention, or indirectly with materiel support for the rebels. The US has no moral obligation to interfere in the internal affairs of totalitarian states any more than in the affairs of allies (real or supposed, read as Saudi Arabia). Period, finito, done! It is our constant meddling that incites and fosters extended conflicts that result in more deaths and misery for the rebels, increased terror and horrors (on both sides) and draws resources into a neverending vortex. The US's record on picking governments to support shows we are only willing to suport governments that are as corrupt as we are, from Diem in Nam, to the Shah in Iran, Karzai in Iraq.. When will we Americans form a knowledgeable and informed electorate to oust our own corrupt "leaders" with .

      June 16, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rabble..

      @Ishouldnobetter: You're aware France intruded in our pesky revolution right? I don't recall the founding fathers saying "no thanks you'd be violating international law"

      June 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
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