North Africa and Middle East unrest, country by country
Ten people, mostly journalists, were injured Thursday when police tried to stop clashes between pro-regime and anti-government protesters in Jordan.
July 15th, 2011
02:01 PM ET

North Africa and Middle East unrest, 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 that has escalated into seemingly unending violence. Here are the latest developments and information about the roots of the unrest.


Several hundred protesters marching through Amman on Friday were attacked by riot police, CNN's Arwa Damon said. A Jordanian security official said riot police were called in only after a group of loyalists clashed with the pro-reform protesters.

The protesters departed Al Hussein mosque on their way to Palm Tree Square, when they were surrounded by police along the way, Damon reported. Upon reaching the square, riot police charged the protesters, beating them with batons and using shields to push them back, she said.

About 100 demonstrators who made it to the square were chanting pro-reform slogans.

Capt. Mohammed Jamil el-Khatib, general security press officer, said that riot police were responding to a clash between loyalists and protesters and that they were within their rights to use shields and batons, the "appropriate force" to break the two groups apart and defend themselves. He denied that they used excessive force.

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 said 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.


Protests throughout Syria on Friday called for the release of political prisoners. At least six demonstrators were killed when security forces opened fire on protesters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Three deaths were reported in Idlib, two in Damascus and one in Daraa. The death toll was expected to rise, the organization said.

According to the Syrian state-run SANA news agency, the military and security forces were protecting demonstrators from the presence of armed groups in Daraa province.

In Damascus, two members of the Syrian security forces were injured when armed groups opened fire on them in the suburb of Jawbar, SANA reported.

The news agency said that at least one death in Idlib was at the hands of armed groups and not security forces.

Meanwhile, state television reported that armed groups opened fire on security forces in the Damascus neighborhood of Qaboun.

Roots of unrest

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 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 that had been in effect since 1963. But security forces then moved quickly to crack down. Government opponents allege massive human rights abuses.


A U.S. drone strike targeting militants in southern Yemen on Thursday killed at least 50 people, two Yemeni security sources said. This comes as the United States and the Yemeni government step up their efforts to target militants, including Islamists who've taken over several cities in recent weeks.

Still, the government claims that a U.S. drone was not involved in the attack and that its air forces conducted the raid.

The interior ministry said on its website that nine fighters were killed, but dozens were injured and that the number of deaths is expected to rise.

Roots of unrest

Inspired by the revolution in Egypt, demonstrators began protesting President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year-old regime February 11. 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.


The United States now recognizes the main opposition  group in Libya "as the legitimate governing authority" there, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday.

U.S.  recognition of the Transitional National Council is a major diplomatic development that could give the rebels access to Libyan regime assets that have been frozen by the United States.

Meanwhile, NATO denied Libyan government accounts that the alliance and anti-government rebels were carrying out a coordinated air, sea and land attack on the strategic town of al-Brega.

"NATO's mission is to prevent attacks and threats against civilians, and that is what we are doing," the alliance said in a statement. "NATO has no military forces on the ground and no direct contact with opposition forces."

A Libyan government spokesman on Thursday called the attack "heavy, merciless and surprising."

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 strength, and a movement to demand democracy and oust Moammar Gadhafi after more than four decades in power exploded into civil war.

NATO began airstrikes in March under a U.N. Security Council mandate to protect civilians.

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Filed under: Algeria • Jordan • Libya • Protest • Syria • Yemen
soundoff (27 Responses)

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    July 16, 2011 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. just the truth

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    July 16, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. Catholic nun

    @ cesar the choizzo champ of chijuajua ,we r not tea partyers we r libral demecrats like your self / BTW will u suc on my 10 inch strap-on if i let u smoke some of my meth??

    July 16, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cesar

      Who are you kidding? I know by your own choice of words above that you're a Tea Partier. Besides, could you post under a different name because the one you're using above is disrespectful to the Catholic Church. If you need to post here, at least drop the profanity, please!

      July 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Catholic Nun

    @ f/uk face Cesar ..... We aint with the tea party we r with the beer party u nit-wit so go f/uk your self or if u prefer I can put on my 10inch strap-on and do it for u !!! And after im done i can throw u down a twenty $ crack rock and u can lock your-self in the closet for a couple of hrs...........

    July 17, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Cesar

      Be honest now, Catholic Nun which I know you're not one, did either Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann put you up to posting the above, or was that Christine O'Donnell? It sure sounds the way one of those broads did by your choice of words!!!

      July 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andreas Moser

    Which regime will fall next: ?

    July 17, 2011 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Cesar

      Let's just hope and pray that it will be the one in Yemen under that cursed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the creep!!! Also, let's hope and pray that this goon gets brought to justice after his downfall.

      July 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
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