June 21st, 2011
11:05 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.


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad offered another general amnesty Tuesday for those accused of crimes, Syrian state TV reported. It's the second known amnesty overture from the embattled Syrian leader since protests erupted in the Middle Eastern country.

GPS: Another deeply disappointing speech by Bashar al-Assad

Ammar Qurabi, chairman of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, said Tuesday that dozens of protesters were arrested Monday during peaceful anti-government demonstrations in the city of Aleppo.

State TV showed images Tuesday of thousands joining pro-regime rallies in cities such as Daraa, Aleppo and Homs. Some in the crowds chanted, "With our blood, with our souls, we will sacrifice for you, Bashar" and "God, Syria and Bashar only."

At least 10,718 Syrian refugees, many of whom fled a military advance in and around the city of Jisr al-Shugur, have crossed the border into Turkey, the Turkish government said.

Diplomats, reporters and U.N. agencies visited northern Syria in a government-sponsored trip on Monday. The war-battered town of Jisr al-Shugur was virtually deserted.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says Syrian officials agreed to give the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent wider access to areas of unrest and that the government has "expressed its readiness" to discuss ICRC visits to detainees.

Opinion: Obama can't 'lead from behind' on 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.


In the first loss of equipment since NATO began airstrikes on Libya, an unmanned helicopter went down Tuesday in the central coastal area, though the alliance did not give any details on whether it was shot down or experienced mechanical problems.

The loss for NATO comes as the alliance faced pressure over a series of incidents over the weekend and into Monday that resulted in allegations of civilian casualties and strikes on Libyan opposition vehicles. Libya claimed that 15 people, including three children, were killed in Monday's incident, said Libyan government spokesman Musa Ibrahim, and included strikes from eight rockets.

White House: Internal legal opinions on war powers decision varied

Libyan rebel leader arrives in China to meet with Chinese officials

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. They quickly gained velocity and strength and the movement to oust Gadhafi after more than four decades in power exploded into civil war. NATO began conducting airstrikes in March after a United Nations Security Council mandate to protect civilians.


Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is being treated in Saudi Arabia after an attack on his compound, will return to Yemen on Friday, senior adviser Ahmed Al-Soufi told CNN. The country's ruling GPC party said that the president will be received by celebrations and will rule until the end of his term in 2013.

The return will likely be unwelcomed by anti-government demonstrators throughout the country. Opposition leaders called news of Saleh's return false rumors. "The ruling party are experts in lying and that is why we are not taking their comments seriously," said Hasan Zaid of the opposition Haq party.

Roots of unrest: Inspired by the revolution that overturned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, demonstrators on February 11 began protesting the 33-year-old regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. A month later, Saleh offered to draft a new constitution that would establish a parliamentary system, but protesters persisted in calling for his resignation, and numerous high-ranking political and military officials resigned or were dismissed. Saleh balked after making overtures to accept an agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council to step down, and fighting has escalated between security forces and opposition groups - primarily tribal forces and Islamic militants - since those efforts broke down in May.

Yemen's battle of the sons


Taher Edwan said he resigned his post as Jordan's information minister over proposed restrictions against the press. Such moves, he said, undermine his "positions" and "values" that he won't abandon. Edwan had been the editor of a daily newspaper.

Roots of unrest: Jordan's economy has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and rising commodity prices, and youth unemployment is high, as it is in Egypt. Officials close to the palace have told CNN that King Abdullah II is trying to turn a regional upheaval into an opportunity for reform. He swore in a new government following anti-government protests. The new government has a mandate for political reform and is headed by a former general, with opposition and media figures among its ranks.

soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Timothy Bopp

    This is exactly right. It is also why we should not hesistate to exploit the crises which are occurring. For decades,
    the Arabs have been throwing stones at U.S. and its allies. Now the table has turned and we should not hesistate
    to capitalize on the unrest. Help those leaders who are disposed to our cause; work against those who are not.
    The Arab mentality is similar to that of a dog - throw them some scraps and they will beg for more. Ours is
    a mission for the enlightenment and advancement of the species. That these moronic towelheads have been
    attacking our civillization is absurd. Crush them, now!

    June 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yasir

      Your generalizations speak of a cretin little brain, and your message is pure hate. There is one point I want to turn on you: the current revolutions in the Middle East were not scraps thrown to the Arabs by the West but genuine home grown democracy & freedom movements. For that matter the U.S. & Europe were entirely unprepared for the timing & scope of what's happening in the whole region. I'm surprised your comments were allowed on this forum as stupid as they are.

      June 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yasir

      In reply to this one of your near sighted ideas: Were the U.S. government ever to choose a policy in the true interest of this country (unlikely), they should support the democracy movements in the whole Middle East! The population there is now fully against Russian, and more importantly Chinese influence in the region, an effect not achieved by the Bush misguided war machine. A free Middle East is also very good for U.S. & European business interests; after all, the Arabs were always successful merchants!

      June 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chris

    just nuke the whole region. problem solved.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BRETT

    Syrian Wife,

    Whats the world coming to when you have a family with two totally different religions. I don't see how your marriage would work.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jarbeau

      Wow, are you for real? If their marriage works, who are you to question it? I pray an intelligent thought mugs you one night as you travel down the alley that is your narrow mind.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Syrian Wife

      Brett, Wow are you for real?? You righteous pompous pig headed idiot, who do you think you are?? My marriage works because we both respect the other. RESPECT – I’m sure that’s a new word for you, why don’t you try looking that word up. Allah Akbar, which means God is great – it works for both of us!

      June 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRETT

      You know I was brought up to think that two people with two completely different religions that get married would have a hard time working out. So, do you take turns. Does he go to church with you one week, and the next week do you go to a mosque with him. Look, I hope that your marriage does work out. By the way God made a covenant with Issac not Ishmael.

      June 21, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Razorminn

    Yeah Brett, I think Jesus would compliment you on being an outstanding Christian after watching you try to start a fight with a Muslim for no reason. Christians are just as f'd up as Muslims, and all other religions for that matter. You are an excellent example of that. You are an inbred idiot.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. aandrew

    @Mr. BRETT
    You will help this world if you just keep quite instead of explaining your message further. Just for your information, a Muslim is not a true believer if they don't believe in Jesus. The only difference is that they don't believe Jesus being a Son of God but just a messenger like many others – Moses, David, Joseph etc.

    I am sure if all piece loving people come together no matter what religion they follow the world would be so beautiful. If you study any religion with an open mind and without any bias, you will find more things in common than differences.

    May God show all os us the right path.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRETT

      You are absolutely correct about the world being beautiful if we would all come together. However, Jesus is the Son of God. That's what i believe!

      June 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BRETT

    Syrian Wife,

    Look at your country,Syria. What has happened? Read the first part of Genesis where it talks about how Israel is Gods Land that he promised to Abraham and his descendants. I believe that all of the wars over there in the middle east is because every country over there hates Israel. It's biblical! DO NOT MESS WITH ISRAEL! It's just that simple.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Syrian Wife

      First of all my county is not Syria, I’m 100% white American, born and raised. Maybe I’m uneducated but wasn’t Israel ruled by the Ottoman Empire up until the 20th century? Not only that, most of the “Israeli” people were living in other countries when they decided to come back to their “land” – of course not without the help of stronger allies who were then able to force the people already living there away from the land. The Holy Land and what it stands for is sacred, not the state of Israel, and certainly not the crappy politics that are happening there now.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Craigsf1234

    I guess the US fighter that went down was pre-NATO, but what about the dutch helicopter? Surely that's a NATO "loss of equipment."

    June 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Al El Beasto

    Unfortunately our "mission of enlightenment and advancment" means exploiting and scamming weaker countries for their money and natural resources. I'm sure that if we (the West) take our greedy little fingers out of the butts of other countries we will suffer much less animosity directed at us.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sam

    Arabs and Muslims are your masters. Throughout history have been the leaders in science, math (the numbers you write with are called Arabic numbers, Algebra is an arabic word, trigonometry, alcohol...all of these are Arabs' creations and dicoveries and more). Arabs lost their power when they were colonolized by the west which worked hard to divide them (France, England, Italy.....) and to destroy their infrastructure. The west also worked hard to create a amjor problem" Israel.
    Long Live Islam and the Arab people and the rest of the world.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Sam:Why don't you go and join these primitive peope and worship them and their God?

      June 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. joey

    W88s for the entire mid east. jerusalem, mecca, and medina, the new glass based parking lots for neo wal marts.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tal

    More accurately Arabs were at one time the succesors of the Greek ideas of reasoned thought and logic that were mostly lost to Western Europe following the fall of Rome. The Arabic culture supported secular education and made huge advancements forwards.

    Their eventual fall was not caused by European colonialism, but by the Ottoman Empire's denial of education in favor of religious indoctrination. Europe finally began to open its mind at the same time that the Arabs decided to lock theirs inside a little box.

    Now some people here in the West want to lock us back in the little box of religious conformity as well. If they succeed we can all stagnate and kill each other together!

    June 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. atheist

    All the 3 religions – christianity, judaism & islam are borne from the same place (middle east) and have the same roots. They are borne from an area as you say is inhabitied by criminal minded tribals.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    Arab leaders who never earned their position as leaders based upon their educational and professional achievements are insecure because they know that they have used their position for their and their families benefit. Now these people are exposed, they are seen as the bottom feeders they are while pretending their relevance is valid. It must be embarrassing to be humiliated in the international media, they're walking naked through the crowd of 6 billion people.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chen

    ...beware of ANY culture who thinks the meanest thing they can do to you is make you die for their God, but they highest thing they can aspire to is to die for that same God....the logic doesn't hold up...whether they be Christian, Jew, Muslim, (the 3 dominant religions of Abraham) or Tultec, Mayan, Zen, Shintao, Buddhist, etc....your God wants you to be the best you can be, not tell others how bad they are....

    June 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nuke em

    Nuke Em All!

    June 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
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