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.

SYRIA

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?

LIBYA

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.

YEMEN

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. The Truth

    No one cares about the Aran spring, Arab unrest or anything else Arab. There are other people in this world....much better people

    June 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • David55

      and you obviously aren't one of them

      June 16, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. InformedStudent

    I just want to remind everyone that the extremists you see as the faces of Al Qaida and whatever other negative images you have in your minds are not the normal for all people in the Middle East. Most followers of Islam are peaceful and the reason they may have a dislike for Americans is because they are taught at a young age to think that way. You cannot place blame on the brainwashed, deprived people of these countries for the atrocities a minority of their leaders commit. At some point in time you can blame any modern religion for some form of violence or disgusting act against humanity–anyone recall how the Pope gave the Spaniards permission to massaccre and enslave natives of Latin America during the first stages of colonialism? And it it absolutley the responsibility of developed, able countries to asist the needy–especially if people are being targeted by their own governments. After the Holocaust didn't we all step back and wonder why no one stepped in sooner to protect the Jews against the Nazi's? Why should it be any different for countries in developing areas of the world? What about Rwanda in the 1990's, the Sudan for the past decade, and other areas around the world? Should we sit back and continue to allow these atrocities to occur, simply because they are on the other side of the world or because we disagree on religion?

    June 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. InfectTruthorBelieveTheLie

    It is good that congress has finally taken their rightful position to regulate the false balance of powers that the US government has tolerated.

    Of course it was in the name of peace and safety of those civillians in Lybia that this war was justified. Question, why don't we use the same justification for those civillians in Syria?

    Here is some history you may not know:

    1970-UK and US military were ordered out of Libya. Property of Italians and Jews is confiscated. Western oil company assets are NATIONALIZED.

    1996-US legislation imposes penalties on foreign companies investing in Libya's energy sector.

    2000-Gaddafi announces plans to form United States of Africa.

    If it looks like a duck, talks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it's a chicken? Huh? But we believe everything the government tells us.

    June 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pop

    Y

    June 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name

      Why you are asking? read the artical, it explains "y"

      June 17, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cesar

    Sorry folks, I didn't post either of the above-Nuke Nut and Far Left Nut. I am the real Cesar. Enjoy reading news and blogs. You two guys get your own names. Now make like a tree and leave.

    June 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. samia taleb

    Come on i think Mumar Khadafi should step down his reign is over. Saleh of yemen went down by force. Now it is Khadafi's turn. How many more years does he think he will exist. This is just ridicules all those civilians dying. It's bad for humanity. Seena, in CA

    June 16, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. test

    test

    June 16, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name

      Thank you for testing, but I don't think its necessary.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cathy

    @Rabble, thank you for the tip. I guess you work in that field.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CallingCard

    When someone has more wealth than he needs, then his or their charity is being questioned. If they fail to answer, it is as good as a luck being a thief. It is the civic responsibility to act when global events takes place in terms of famine and disasters or other catastrophies causing humanity to suffer. If anyone being lucky enough doesn't respond, we have the right to punish them with human laws, be it inhumane in nature or be it a destruction to the end. One good fellowship is better than thousands of martyrs. Arab uprising is simply based on wealth not in the pursuit of happiness, because it is not based on ideological differences. While the oil rich nations building their paradise, we hate to see how wealth enslaves us and our intelligence being a useless tool. Human Rights is often a difficult avenue.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Goprogress

    The Arab spring has failed in every country except the 3 stalemates in Libya, Syria and Yemen – Egypt is a phony victory since the same generals who ruled before still rule and who cares about Tunesia I haven't heard one update on them but my guess they are still free of democracy.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Booger

    The only good muslim is a dead rotting one...killem all and let god sort it out.
    Mohammad humps little boys while eating goat turds. If mohammad is your prophet then you're probably less intelligent than a dog... Arabs are good for our economy, we make money making airplanes with lots of bombs to kill them all...

    June 16, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Name

    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.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rabble..

    @Cathy: Yes I do work in the energy field. The US gets most it's crude from Canada, Mexico, Russia and South America. All these countries are relatively stable, so pointing to Libya as a scapegoat is disingenuous at best. Everyone is just trying to get our money. Nothing more or less.

    June 17, 2011 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. saywhat

    Well said @ Informed Student
    We have been initiating armed conflicts and propping up dictators in the M.East for decades to protect & safe gauard Israel's interest and in the process expanding American lives & national treasure.
    Even now the ignorant thugs up on the Hill taking their commands from Tel Aviv wouldn't let Obama Administration take steps to strive for resolving Israel-palestinian conflict. Vital for Jews, Americans & Arabs.
    Ask any self respecting, morally upstanding Jew like those in JStreet, Jewish voice for Peace, Rabbis of N.America for Peace & many others. Or Jewish intellectuals like MJ Rosenberg,naom Chomsky, UriAvnery, Horowitz, Ilan Pepe and many others.
    They will tell you that the biggest hurdle in the way of peace in the M.East is the current apartheid Zionist regime in Israel.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam Tleel

      Take note that there are 4.5 million Pallestians living in refugee camps in Lebanon 20 camps Syria jordan Palestine Gaza Palestine west bank...they all are willing ready to go back home to their cities villages ranches and live there in peace...the settlers OH well..back to new York and germany...

      June 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mimi

    ^ ^ ^ “The Retardo Monologues” by: Name.

    June 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
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