Skip to main content

Protests continue to ripple across Mideast, North Africa

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Jordanian opposition group has refused to meet with the new PM, but meets with king
  • Pro- and anti-government supporters have gathered near Sanaa University in Yemen
  • Protests are being organized in Syria, despite the president's promise of political reforms
  • In Tunisia, Americans advised to avoid protests, still ongoing after the president's ouster

(CNN) -- Protests in Egypt have dominated international headlines of late, but signs of unrest are prevalent in several countries throughout the Middle East and Africa.

Emboldened by an uprising in Tunisia, which saw the nation's president of almost a quarter century flee to Saudi Arabia, protesters have staged similar demonstrations from Lebanon to Yemen to Algeria.

Here are the latest developments across the region:

Egypt

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq apologized Thursday for the violent attacks on protesters as the military took position between pro- and anti-President Hosni Mubarak supporters.

Still, rocks flew back and forth in an empty construction area near a metal barricade that anti-Mubarak protesters had set up overnight.

Shafiq and Vice President Omar Suleiman were meeting with opposition groups, including protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, state media reported, but some administration opponents have rejected the invitation.

Jordan

King Abdullah II responded to protests in his country by dismissing Tuesday his entire government, including Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai.

Protesters mobilize in Tahrir Square
Lebanon's 'day of rage' turns violent
Police van plows into people in Cairo
Protesters filling the streets in Yemen

Jordanians, which rely heavily on international aid, have been hit hard by rising wheat and oil prices in recent months, and the government recently restored subsidies that it had cut in an attempt to lower the budget deficit. It also improved pay for civil servants.

The king directed new Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit, an ex-intelligence chief, to tackle corruption, enact political reform, spur development and strengthen democracy.

Though some groups have backed out of planned protests Friday, the nation's main Islamist group said it plans to continue street demonstrations Friday in protest of al-Bakhit's appointment. It wants the prime minister elected by parliament.

The Islamic Action Front has also refused to meet with the new prime minister but met with Abdullah on Thursday.

Yemen

In an apparent attempt to head off the unrest witnessed in other countries, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said recently said he would not seek re-election and would not pass power to his son.

It wasn't enough for thousands of anti-government protesters who gathered near Sanaa University in the nation's capital Thursday. They spoke out against poverty and demanded that Saleh, whose term ends in 2013, step down.

About a kilometer away pro-government supporters demonstrated in support of Saleh. Despite sparse security in the area, there were no apparent clashes between the sides.

Earlier this year, Yemen's parliament began debating proposed constitutional amendments to cancel presidential term limits, sparking opposition fears Saleh might appoint himself president for life. On Wednesday, Saleh said he has requested his party to freeze debate on the proposed amendments until a consensus is reached.

Syria

By all accounts a police state, Syria has been ruled by President Bashar al-Assad for more than 10 years. Before him, his father, Hafez al-Assad ruled the country for almost three decades.

The U.N. Development Programme estimates 30% of Syrians live below the poverty line, and Human Rights Watch found Syria's government denies its citizens civil rights, "arresting political and human rights activists, censoring websites, detaining bloggers and imposing travel bans."

After seeing unrest in the region, the junior al-Assad said he would push for political reforms in his own country because waiting for protests like those in Egypt and Tunisia might make it "too late to do any reform."

It may be that al-Assad saw the writing on the wall. Reform activists used Facebook to call for Saturday demonstrations in Damascus, Aleppo and other cities, but it was unclear how many people would turn out.

Tunisia

The north African nation of 11 million has issued an arrest warrant for its deposed president, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, as well as his wife and several relatives.

Egyptian activist: Not going to stop us
Worn and battered after day of clashes
Self-made billionaire as new Lebanese PM
Molotovs leave Tahrir Square ablaze
RELATED TOPICS
  • Algeria
  • Amman (Jordan)
  • Egypt
  • Lebanon
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • Yemen

They face charges including maintaining and exporting foreign currency illegally, carrying weapons and ammunition without licenses and inciting armed violence among Tunisians. The ex-leader fled to Saudi Arabia last month after mass protests that left more than 100 people dead.

Protests there began when demonstrators -- credited with starting the ripple effect of protests across North Africa and the Middle East -- lashed out at poor living conditions, high unemployment, government corruption and repression.

Though the U.S. has lifted a travel warning for the country, protests have continued and Americans are advised to avoid demonstrations and to exercise caution.

Sudan

Already faced with the expected secession of its oil-rich south and charges of genocide against President Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's government is now seeing signs of unrest.

Police clashed with students in the capital Khartoum on Sunday as the protesters chanted, "Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan together as one."

About 100 students hurled rocks at police officers, who pushed them back. The human rights group Amnesty International said more than 20 people still being held by police "are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment."

Al-Bashir has ruled Sudan since 1993. His National Congress Party took power in a military coup in 1989.

Lebanon

Protests erupted last month as President Michel Suleiman appointed Najib Mikati, a Hezbollah-backed politician, as prime minister.

Supporters of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri saw the move as a power grab by the Shiite movement that enjoys Iranian support and is designated a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.

Hariri initially urged supporters to stage a "Day of Rage" and show restraint in protesting the appointment, but the demonstrations quickly grew ugly as gunshots were fired and his supporters burned tires and garbage containers in various cities.

Compounding problems is a a 32-year-old law that could earn Lebanon a U.S. designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, which could end U.S. foreign assistance and impose other sanctions, according to a former adviser to the U.S. State Department's Counterterrorism Office.

Algeria

Responding to unrest in the region, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Thursday said he would lift the state of emergency in effect for nearly 20 years, according to the Algerian Press Service.

Bouteflika has been in power since 1999. This week, Time magazine labeled him one of the "top 10 autocrats in trouble."

Though Bouteflika has attempted to bolster relations with other parties and promote democracy, there is little political freedom and critics say there is widespread corruption among the ruling class, the magazine reported.

Last month, the country's largest opposition party called for demonstrations demanding the release of detainees and the restoration of individual and collective freedoms.

Opponents blame the government for a spike in food prices and say the regime has failed to use Algeria's vast energy wealth to better the lives of ordinary people.

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin, Mohammed Jamjoom, Rima Maktabi, Josh Levs, Nic Robertson and Nada Husseini contributed to this report.

 
Quick Job Search