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Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa -- country by country

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The winds of unrest have swept through North Africa and the Middle East
  • The demonstrations started in Tunisia in December
  • The leaders of Tunisia and Egypt have resigned amid mass protests
  • Protests turned deadly in Bahrain and Iraq on Thursday
  • Egypt
  • Bahrain
  • Yemen
  • Libya

(CNN) -- Unrest has spread across the Middle East and North Africa. Here's a look at what has happened -- and what is happening -- in various countries:

Thursday developments:


At least four people died and scores more were injured early Thursday when security forces stormed an encampment of protesters in the Pearl Roundabout, a landmark city circle located in the center of Manama. The clampdown quickly drew condemnation both locally and internationally, but an Interior Ministry official told the Bahrain News Agency that the clampdown came after "all opportunities for dialogue" with the protesters had been exhausted. The largest party in Bahrain's parliament withdrew from the chamber in protest. Two other people died during disturbances earlier in the week.

The tiny island nation is a U.S. ally and houses the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. But U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that she had expressed Washington's "deep concerns" about the clampdown, and White House spokesman Jay Carney said the use of force against protesters is "not an appropriate reaction."

Roots of unrest:

Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama on Monday to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy. But some are now calling for the removal of the royal family, which has led the Persian Gulf island state since the 18th century. Young members of the country's Shiite Muslim majority have staged violent protests in recent years to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption, issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights says authorities launched a clampdown on dissent in late 2010, accusing the government of torturing some human rights activists.


Egyptian prosecutors have jailed a former ruling party official and three ministers from deposed strongman Hosni Mubarak's

government, including its onetime interior minister, as part of a corruption probe, state news outlets reported Thursday. All four have been ordered held for 15 days while prosecutors conduct their investigation, the state-run reported.

Former Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly has been questioned regarding allegations of profiteering and money laundering, but further charges are possible, EgyNews reported.

Egypt is now in the hands of a military council following Friday's ouster of Mubarak, who ruled the country for nearly 30 years. The generals have called on Egyptians to return to work, and Egypt's newly appointed minister of antiquities announced Thursday that tourist sites will reopen on Sunday. But scattered protests and strikes continued for a week following Mubarak's resignation.

Roots of unrest:

Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced Mubarak from office last week. Demonstrators were also angry about Mubarak's 30-year rule, a lack of free elections and many economic issues, including high food prices, low wages and high unemployment.


One person was killed and 57 were wounded Thursday when hundreds of protesters clashed with security forces in Sulaimaniya, a city in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, according to Dr. Raykot Hamed Salih, a health official there. Dozens of protesters attacked the Kurdistan Democratic Party headquarters in the city and destroyed furniture and computers inside the building, police officials in Sulaimaniya told CNN. Witnesses told CNN that a number of Kurdish security forces, known as peshmerga, opened fire to disperse the protesters.

Roots of unrest:

Demonstrations in Iraq, unlike in other parts of the Mideast and North Africa, have usually not targeted the national government. Instead, the protesters are angry over corruption, the quality of basic services, a crumbling infrastructure and high unemployment, particularly on a local level. They want an end to frequent power outages and food shortages.


Messages and videos posted on social media sites Thursday signaled that anti-government protests in Libya were gathering steam in several cities, with some turning violent on a "Day of Rage." There were reports of bloody clashes and 21 deaths, but they could not be independently confirmed.

Late Thursday, a top Libyan online newspaper that supports longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi reported that a government committee, the Secretary Committee of the People's Conference, plans to make major changes to Libya's government. The committee's reforms will affect executive branches of government and also include moves aimed at better supporting local government administrators, the newspaper reported.

But a text message sent out on mobile phones earlier in the day challenged younger Libyans to take to the streets, activists and bloggers said. "From Libya's youth to anyone who dares to cross any of the four red lines come and face us in any street on the ground of our beloved country," the dispatch said. The message referred to a speech by Gadhafi's son, Saif el-Islam Gadhafi, in which he described the lines as Islamic law, the Quran, Libyan security and his father. CNN does not have journalists in Libya and was unable to confirm the extent of the demonstrations unfolding there.

Roots of unrest:

Protests in Libya, ruled by Moammar Gadhafi since a 1969 coup, began in January 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 the Abu Salim prison, according to Human Rights Watch. High unemployment has also fueled the protests, as have anti-Gadhafi groups


Hundreds of Palestinians rallied for unity in Ramallah on Thursday, calling on Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian political factions to heal their rifts amid arguments over elections scheduled for September in the Palestinian territories. "Division generates corruption," was one of several slogans written on banners held up by the demonstrators, who flooded the streets after calls went out on social networking sites, schools and university campuses for them to attend.

Roots of unrest:

The Palestinian territories have not seen the kind of demonstrations as in many Arab countries, but the Fatah leaders of the Palestinian Authority have been under criticism since Al-Jazeera published secret papers claiming to reveal that Palestinian officials were prepared to make wide-ranging concessions in negotiations with Israel. Negotiations toward a resolution of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict have since collapsed. Palestinian protests, largely in support of Egypt and Tunisia, were generally small and poorly attended, and in some cases the Hamas rulers of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority rulers of the West Bank actively tried to stifle protests. The split between Hamas and Fatah hampers internal change in the territories, although calls for political change are growing louder among Palestinians. Large-scale protests, as seen elsewhere in the Arab world, have failed to materialize, as many Palestinians believe their problem remains the Israeli occupation.


One person was killed and more that two dozen were hurt in clashes between stone-throwing pro- and anti-government demonstrators Thursday in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, eyewitnesses and an opposition lawmaker reported.

Ahmed Hashid, the lawmaker, told CNN that police at the scene did not try to intervene. The clashes came after anti-government protesters tried to find a place to hold their demonstration, the government opponents told CNN. They had planned to gather at Sanaa University but found government supporters there, who forced them to leave, they said. The clash took place in western Sanaa, with about 600 government opponents there at the peak, they claimed. It was the seventh straight day of protests in Yemen.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters have called for the ouster of longtime 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. As in other countries, high unemployment fuels much of the anger among a growing young population steeped in poverty. The protesters also cite government corruption and a lack of political freedom.

Previous developments:


Authorities in Algeria said Monday that they would lift a 20-year state of emergency in the "coming days," but it had not been canceled as of Tuesday. They acted after anti-government protesters chanting "Change the power!" clashed with security forces in the capital over the weekend, witnesses said. The state of emergency was imposed in 1992 to quell a civil war that led to the deaths of what U.S. officials estimate to be more than 150,000 people. About 100 protesters were arrested during the protests in Algiers on Saturday, according to the opposition Algerian League for Human Rights.

Roots of unrest:

Protests began in January over escalating food prices. But when protests toppled regimes in neighboring Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would lift a nearly 20-year-old state of emergency in what analysts said was an attempt to head off a similar revolt there. The state of emergency was imposed in 1992 in a clampdown against Islamist groups that had taken a lead in early parliamentary voting. The clampdown led to a civil war that left more than 100,000 people dead. Opponents of the regime say the insurgency has long since diminished and that the law now exists only to muzzle critics of the government. To date, despite almost daily pledges to lift the state of emergency, it remains in place.


Thousands of people, many of them Iranian government supporters, turned up in Tehran on Wednesday for the funeral of a man killed in anti-government protests. The gathering near Tehran University comes amid tension in the nation following a crackdown on anti-government protests. Government officials said 26-year-old Sana Jaleh was shot to death Monday by members of an outlawed group called the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran. The group, which is also known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, has opposed the Iranian government for decades. Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday called for the execution of key opposition leaders. On Monday, tens of thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters marched in downtown Tehran.

Roots of unrest:

Opposition to the ruling clerics has simmered since the country's 2009 election, when hundreds of thousands of people filled Tehran streets to denounce the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as fraudulent. Monday's demonstrations were the largest anti-government rallies since then, and Iranian authorities sought to restrict coverage by international news outlets.


King Abdullah II swore in a new government last week following anti-government protests in his country. The new government has a mandate for political reform and is headed by a former general, with several opposition and media figures among its ranks. The appointment of Marouf al-Bakhit as the new prime minister was seen as an attempt to shore up support among Jordan's Bedouin tribes -- the bedrock of the monarchy.

Roots of unrest:

Jordan's economy has been hard-hit 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 Abdullah is trying to turn a regional upheaval into an opportunity for reform.


Demonstrators have clashed with authorities on several recent occasions in Sudan. Human Rights Watch has said that "authorities used excessive force during largely peaceful protests on January 30 and 31 in Khartoum and other northern cities." Witnesses said that several people were arrested, including 20 who remain missing. The Sudanese Embassy said that people in Sudan have the right to "demonstrate as they wish" but that "some opportunists capitalize" on incidents "to inspire chaos or smear Sudan's image."

Roots of unrest:

Demonstrators seek an end to the National Congress Party rule and government-imposed price increases, according to Human Rights Watch. They say the government has been heavy-handed in its response to demonstrations, using pipes, sticks and tear gas to disperse protesters.


Roots of unrest:

As protests heated up around the region, the Syrian government pulled back from a plan to withdraw some subsidies that keep the cost of living down in the country. President Bashar al-Assad also gave a rare interview to Western media, telling The Wall Street Journal for a January 31 article that he planned reforms that would allow for local elections and included a new media law and more power for private organizations. A planned "Day of Rage" that was being organized on Facebook for February 5 failed to materialize, The New York Times reported. Opponents of the al-Assad government claim massive human rights abuses, and an emergency law has been in effect since 1963.


A government-imposed curfew in Tunisia has been lifted, but a state of emergency remains in effect, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday, as reported by the state-run Tunis Afrique Presse. The curfew was from midnight until 4 a.m., and the state of emergency was put into place in January.

Roots of unrest:

Autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country January 14 after weeks of demonstrations. Violent protests continued against the inclusion of Ben Ali's party in the new government, eventually forcing all Constitutional Democratic Rally ministers to resign from the party, followed by the disbanding of the party's central committee. Later, former members of the party resigned from the government. The protests began in December to complain about high unemployment, corruption, rising prices and political repression. The revolt was triggered when an unemployed college graduate set himself ablaze after police confiscated his fruit cart, cutting off his source of income.

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